Monday, May 18, 2020

Ellen Schinderman of Stitch Fetish

Ellen Schinderman is the curator of Stitch Fetish, a pop up fiber erotica show based in Los Angeles.

  When did you first realize your passion for the arts?
I’ve always been an artist. I grew up in the theater, and then fell into visual arts and stitching. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t making something, working on a character, writing a script, something, from day one.
Were there any specific events that led to your decision to work with other artists?
Coming from a theater background, if you want to work on good material, you have to create your own opportunities, until you’re well known. When I started showing visual art, a little over a decade ago, there weren’t many opportunities for stitchers, nonetheless naughty stitchers, so I started curating.
What exactly is Stitch Fetish and what caused you to choose such a niche art form?
The form chose me! I bought a piece of art, a small oil by Jude Buffum, that was naughty and pixeled. I wondered what porn would look like needlepointed, so I googled it. When I didn’t find anything (although Maria Pineres was already making amazing stuff), I started stitching to amuse myself. After a couple years I started showing it to people, and then showing.
Stitch Fetish is a celebration of sex/the body/gender/erotica, in stitch. I like to say it’s the most whimsical, least objectifying erotica show around.
What are some of the reactions you receive from these exhibits?
Overall the response is incredibly positive. The artists are an amazing community, many of whome fly in for the openings from around the world (this year of COVID is definitely going to be odd). The DTLA community loves the show; this is our 8th year and every year more and more people ask if we’re doing it again. Of course there’s always going to be someone who gets bent about erotica, but that says more about them and their level of comfort with sex/their body/etc. than it does about the show.
Are there any misconceptions about your intention with Stitch Fetish in which you face from the public?
Not that I’m aware of, once in a blue moon someone calls the work porn, but as stated above, that’s about them, not the work.
Has working with other artists provided additional opportunities to express your own creativity?
Absolutely. I’ve been curated into shows by other artists who I’ve shown. Collaborated with people I’ve shown. And best of all, created an amazing community of people who ask one another about the work, support one another, and are just basically fantastic humans.
What do you find most rewarding about the curation process?
Probably the community we’ve created. Although I do love watching teens react to Stitch Fetish. DTLA Art Walk brings in such a diverse crowd, and it’s so fun to watch kids see the art, know it’s funny, but not know if it’s okay to laugh, because it’s ART. I love chatting with them and giving that permission, “Can you believe that someone knit that?” And they bust out laughing. It’s so fun.
What are some of the challenges that you face?
Aside from overcoming people’s preconceived notions of erotica (and really who cares about that), just dealing with basic curator stuff: people not reading the call carefully and submitting paintings or sculptures rather than fiber work, people who get upset that they weren’t accepted, work arriving that wasn’t correctly represented and doesn’t look like the images sent, and, most upsettingly, work that was poorly packed and damaged en route.
Are there certain qualities that you look for in artists in deciding whether they will be pleasurable to work with? And on the contrary, any areas for improvement  artists should be aware of?
I look for artists who are as talented as they are easy to work with and who are gracious. No matter how talented someone is, no one likes dealing with difficult people, and there’s so much talent, it’s not worth the time. 
Aside from being professional, READ the call carefully and thoroughly; don’t waste your time, or the curators.
Do you have future plans for curation beyond what you are doing today?