Tales from the Valley

If you haven’t stopped by the Chemung Valley History Museum lately, the next couple of weeks would be an excellent time to do so. The museum is currently featuring Stitched Across the Valley, an exhibit presented in partnership with The ARTS Council of the Southern Finger Lakes.


The exhibit highlights embroiderers who live in or near the Chemung River Valley, but hail from all over the world, which is quite a statement about the breadth of perspectives and experiences we have right here in our own backyard.


A Peruvian arpillera, a textile panel that tells a family narrative.

I don’t know much about sewing. My grandmother taught me to knit when I was young and I used to do so fairly often, but my latest project is a blanket I started for my friend who was having a baby. The blanket is about a quarter of the way finished, the baby’s…about four years old now ;)

My lack of discipline, though, really made me appreciate these artists, who have the devotion and talent to create such beautiful pieces. Like this one from China, a portrait of a bride that was given to her as a wedding gift and hand-embroidered with silk.


That was the most impressive aspect for me, the sheer heft and variety of stories told through instruments as simple as needle and thread. The exhibit speaks of finding “encoded secrets” in embroidery, which I thought was an interesting way of expressing how pieces like these represent a stunning variety of histories, legacies and messages about subjects including family, social status, gender roles, industrial manufacturing versus domestic production, national and ethnic identities, and tradition versus innovation.





This piece was noted for its subtle yet extraordinary color choices, which I think is what drew me to it.

Stitched Across the Valley runs through Thursday, June 19th. On that day, from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m., Chemung Valley History Museum members are invited to attend a closing reception and meet the artists. (For more information about becoming a member, which is super-affordable and includes benefits like free admission anytime, click here.)



Rookie’s Tip: While you’re at the museum, make sure to check out their newly-expanded “Mark Twain’s Elmira” exhibit.


History Museum Logo415 East Water Street, Elmira, NY 14901
(607) 734-4167

The ARTS logo 2011The Hawkes Building
79 West Market Street, Corning, NY 14830
(607) 962-1332