Girl, Embroidered: The Surprising Stitchcraft of Jessica So Ren Tang

Jessica So Ren Tang

Embroidery isn’t an art form we’ve featured too much (ok, ever) in Heavy Metal, but then, we’ve never seen it done like this. Artist Jessica So Ren Tang is taking this usually-decorative medium and putting it front and center, with unconventional subject matter. Her “Girl” series in particular has popped up on social media and design blogs, and it’s easy to see why:

"Mini Girl 03" embroidery by Jessica So Ren Tang

“Mini Girl 03” embroidery by Jessica So Ren Tang

Jessica So Ren Tang

“Mini Girl02” embroidery by Jessica So Ren Tang

There is logic to this mad stitchcraft—here’s what the artist says about her work at

Embroidery is versatile in mimicking the original object in shape and design but still distinct enough to be recognized as something else. The stitches are soft but substantial, more tangible. … In my girl series, I replace the facial identity of suggestively posed Asian women with Asian textile patterns. The patterned skin creates a broader spectrum of Asian identity; it becomes more ambiguous and fluid as identity moves between the two.

Jessica So Ren Tang

“GIRL01” embroidery by Jessica So Ren Tang

While the girly stuff is perhaps the most eye-catching of So Ren Tang’s work, her embroidered sculptures of everyday items from Asian culture may be even technically more impressive—check out “Blue Willow Plate,” a recreation in fabric and thread of well-known traditional Chinese white pottery:

"Blue Willow Plate" embroidery by Jessica So Ren Tang

“Blue Willow Plate” embroidery by Jessica So Ren Tang

So Ren Tang says her aim with the “Object” series is to: “recreate familiar Asian American objects that take on the visual identity of the original object but reject said identity due to its material.”

Jessica So Ren Tang

“GIRL02” embroidery by Jessica So Ren Tang

To keep up on So Ren Tang’s latest work, follow her at, where she faithfully documents her works-in-progress as they take shape. While the work she’s created so far is not for sale, she may be offering commissions in 2017.

Jessica So Ren Tang

“GIRL03” embroidery by Jessica So Ren Tang

Jessica So Ren Tang

“GIRL04” embroidery by Jessica So Ren Tang

"Cup Noodles" embroidery by Jessica So Ren Tang

“Cup Noodles” embroidery by Jessica So Ren Tang

Jessica So Ren Tang

“Mini Girl01” embroidery by Jessica So Ren Tang

"Chinese Bowl" embroidery by Jessica So Ren Tang

“Chinese Bowl” embroidery by Jessica So Ren Tang

"Take Out Box" embroidery by Jessica So Ren Tang

“Take Out Box” embroidery by Jessica So Ren Tang

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