Moss embroidery is artist Emma Mattson’s vehicle to alleviate stress. We think it also works as a medium of storytelling.
For many years art has been touted as a way to overcome stress, anxiety and depression – perhaps this is how the phrase ‘art is therapy’ came into existence. For Maryland based photographer and artist, Emma Mattson, it has become a way of life. Specialising in moss embroidery, Emma’s art transcends the natural and leaves you with a piece of landscape that is entirely unique, and almost life-like.
There are more than 10,000 different species of moss, and Emma’s creations serve to glorify this rather often-ignored flowerless plant. It is interesting how the embroideries, which Emma calls ‘miniature landscapes’ are so intricately detailed, in varying shades of green alone. Even without the usually bright colours and hues that blossom in gardens, these miniature landscapes really do stand out as a wonderful manifestation of the artist’s creativity.
“The different shades of green,” Emma says, “work rhythmically together with no sharp contrasts.” In their own way, these landscapes offer a sense of peace and quiet. The detailing flows freely enough to allow a harmonised and balanced reflection of nature, also highlighting the symbiotic relationship that exists amidst plants.
“The repetitive motions of creating French knot after French knot” is a wonderfully therapeutic way to cope with daily stress. Along with the knot(s), felt and thread, Emma creates (stitches) moss-like tapestry onto fabric mounted on embroidery hoops. Much like real and natural moss, Emma’s moss embroidery is also bound to the base.
Each piece uses a mix of different yarns in varied textures and colours. But what is interesting is apart from the usual felt and thread she also sews fake moss into her creations, with the aim to mitigate the difference between what’s real and what’s not. This addition to the embroidery is what makes the entire piece of art stand out. It suffuses the elements with a kind of homogeneity which make them come together in a unique framework of colours, shapes, patterns, and ultimately, art.
With a degree in Fine Arts from Townson University and a photographer by profession, Emma believes mass embroidery is ‘about creating and building up a scene from nothing.’ Her landscapes, though bursting with colours here and there, reflect her idea of subjects that sort of merge with the textured topography. “My mass embroideries mimic a natural texture,” Emma says. Her photography and multi-media art work in tandem to accommodate each other.
“This kind of creation is so wonderful because it is free flowing,” Emma goes on to say. “I get lost in the motions and don’t have to think.” As a form of therapy, if art can pull you away from the drudgery of daily life then it has managed to surpass just a singular purpose. Creativity is an important aspect of human development and evolution. The root of art therapy lies in creating something of your own entirely by yourself. In Emma’s words, she gives one-dimensional art a three-dimensional narrative. “I layer felt together for three-dimensionality in round shapes and go from there in a more abstract sense.”
What drives such kind of art is the artist’s vision and determination to take it through. In Emma’s case, the scope of moss embroidery is endless as long as the artist can see every piece in a new light and define its purpose in shapes and patterns that weave a story in three-dimensionality. Emma puts up her work for sale on Etsy, but they don’t stay unsold for very long.
She also puts up her WIPs and details of upcoming sales on Instagram. Moss art isn’t unknown to the average green thumbs. But Emma’s artificial embroidery is so real and intricate with its complex stitches that it might just pass off as real moss in your miniature gardens. And you never know, the unassuming passerby may even imagine a creepy-crawly growing in it! (Only you’ll know the truth)
Art is therapeutic. And at the end of the day, is also a narrative.
Text By Priyanka Menon
Photographs Emma Mattson