Featured Artist: Emily Blei Hracho

Age: 22

Hometown: Reading, PA

Current town: Philadelphia, PA

Job description: Working Artist


Bio: Emily Blei Hracho is a third generation artist living and working in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She concentrated in Fiber and Material Studies at Temple University’s Tyler School of Art. Her use of traditional techniques such as sewing and construction, loom weaving, and embroidery are integrated into a contemporary practice though the production of sculptural installations. Her work reflects upon her generation’s identity through a focus on habitual language and internet culture.

Upcoming projects: BFA Residency: Fibers and Material Studies dept. Tyler School of Art

Mixed fabrics, thread, fiberfill stuffing Site specific installation
Mixed fabrics, thread, fiberfill stuffing Site specific installation This piece is made up of thirty individual soft sculptures that consist of letters that spell out phrases. These pieces were made to be installed together as they are in this image, they rely on each other and the space they exist in for support.


Select links: http://www.emilybleihracho.com/



Describe your work.

I work three dimensionally, making either large scale or small scale soft sculptures that typically utilize the space they are installed in for support.


What themes and concepts does your work generally revolve around?

I focus on collections of intangible things, such as language. I make pieces either directly representing these words and phrases or in response to them. The language I collect is reflective of a particular age and demographic, mostly young women.

SO YEAH: Detail
Mixed fabrics, thread, fiberfill stuffing Site specific installationThe letters wrap around the corners of the architecture and are carefully leaning in place. They are, for the most part, not attached to the wall or floor.

What materials do you work with?

Various fabrics, thread and floss, embellishments, cording, stuffing, yarns, and occasionally more alternative materials such as latex.


What are you currently working on?

A new body of work that involves hand embroidery as well as free-motion stitching on a sewing machine. I am taking two dimensional stitched drawings and making them sculptural in a variety of ways.


What kind of creative patterns, routines or rituals do you have?

I save every last scrap of material I produce. I absolutely cannot throw things away. It is mostly habitual and a bit of a problem, but it is also a money saving tactic. Everything can be turned into something else. I find myself saying “I’ll just stitch that onto something later” and usually I do! Nothing goes to waste.


What’s your art background?

Both of my parents are working artists and my grandmother was too. Working creatively has always been a huge part of me. I tried to distance myself from it when I was younger but it was impossible.

Jersey knit, thread, fiberfill stuffing
Each phrase that makes up the installation stands on its own as a sculpture. This is the title piece of the installation, still relying on the architecture of the space for support.

What’s been happening in your life?

I’m about to graduate from Tyler School of Art with my BFA. After graduation, I plan to continue living and working in Philadelphia. I just had my solo thesis exhibition entitled “SO YEAH” in the Stella Elkins Tyler Gallery.


What’s next for you?

I am about to start a Summer Residency at Tyler in my department, Fibers and Material Studies. During this time, I’ll be producing a new body of work. Hopefully I’ll be showing some new and older pieces soon as well as making and selling some functional items on the side.


Describe your current state of mind.

A bit frazzled, with hope for clarity in the near future!


What’s inspiring you?

I have been looking into the titles of amateur pornography, they are often humorous and unusual. I have been collecting them in a number of ways for the past couple months. I hope to appropriate these words and phrases as titles for my own small scale sculptural works. I believe these titles collectively bring to mind a different branch of identities of young women than I was previously focusing on.

Girls with Neon Hair I & II
Mixed yarns, string, fabric, thread
2 6yd weavings, installed on 8ft wall
These weighty pieces are bunched up on the wall to condense their length. They are fit to the space, going floor to ceiling.

Is any of your work political?

Not overtly, but I think that it is taking a slightly more political direction with the next stage of work I am creating.


What are you trying to communicate with your art?

I like to bring attention to things that go unnoticed because of their seeming lack of significance. With my last body of work, I took words and phrases that we use all the time but are not truly necessary parts of our conversations and made them large, brightly colored, and in-your-face. This way, it is hard to not consider their position and purpose in our lives.


What is one of the biggest challenges you face as an artist?

Lately it has been the struggle of storing the large amount of work I have made. I tend to work big and with a lot of volume, moving and storing pieces of such a significant size can be a real challenge. I am struggling with the fact that I want to continue to work big, but realistically it is hard to manage on my own and with the resources I currently have.


How has the meaning of your work changed over time?

I used to make work with more general concepts like memory, time, or collection. In the more recent years, I have been able to zero in on more specific topics like the identity of a particular generation or collections of a specific type of language.

Girls with Neon Hair II: Detail
Mixed yarns, string, fabric, thread
6 yd weaving
The piece has many layers of piling yarn and fabric to give it dimension. The woven structure was broken up into sections to create separate yet still attached portions that bend and take shape differently from their neighbors when installed in this fashion.

What do you dislike about your work?

I don’t really dislike anything about my work. I feel like as an artist, it is important to be confident in what you have made. If you’re not able to fully stand behind what you’ve made, people won’t join you.


Which creative medium would you love to pursue but haven’t yet?

I want to learn how to use plaster. I think it has a seductive quality to it and it could work well as a support for my embroidery work. I would also like to make kinetic pieces.


What is your dream project?

I am always interested in completely filling an entire space. If I had an opportunity to create a huge enterable environment that was entirely filled with stitched soft sculpture, I would be so happy.


Do you collaborate with other artists?

Occasionally I will help other artists out by aiding them with an install or being in a friend’s video or performance piece. I have not collaborated on the creation of a piece yet, but I would love to give it a try. Collaboration can be so beneficial when trying to execute something larger than life.

Oh Honey
Latex, clearcoat
These pieces were made by dipping clay structures into latex rubber. After they dry, the clay is broken out leaving hollow shells of latex. They are installed together on a flat surface (pedestal) with small space between each individual piece.

Favorite artists and why? People in your field whom you most admire:

Jenny Holzer and her hypnotic and inspiring use of written and collected text

Sheila Hicks and her luscious weavings and installations

Tim Hawkinson and his humorous and smart kinetic sculptures

Max Ernst for his paintings of surreal textural creatures.


What are you reading?

The Porning of America: The rise of Porn Culture, What it Means, and Where We Go from Here

By Carmine Sarracino and Kevin M. Scott


Favorite authors, fiction: 

Katherine Dunn

Kate Chopin

Emily Bronte

Oh Honey
Latex, clearcoat
The clearcoat is visible in this image, as well as the proximity of the pieces to each other.

Favorite authors, nonfiction:

Patti Smith


What was the last exhibit you attended?

I have mostly been going to my friends’ thesis exhibitions. But I also saw a great Tim Hawkinson show at Pace Gallery in New York not to long ago. I also saw a very inspiring show by Taryn Simon recently.


What was the first piece of artwork you bought/ do you buy a lot of artwork?

I bought a beautiful little ceramic bowl in Portugal and an intricate cut paper work in Poland when I was traveling this time last year. I really should buy more artwork!


Your website(s):


IG: @emilyblei

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