The outlines of figures are embroidered onto muslin sewing rings. On some, male and female bodies are striking in their uniformity, with identical body shapes and no signs of individuality. Standing in militaristic order, the differences in the typically male and typically female bodies are the only markers distinguishing them from one another. In other pieces, body type stands out as a defining difference. Three groups, of mixed sexes, stand separately, divided seemingly by their body shape or weight.
In the final piece, which rests on the floor instead of on the wall, colored threads extend beyond the sewing ring, allowing the image to remain undefined. This piece depicts one sole figure, isolated but uncategorized and unjudged. Called Gamgam’s Wall, this collection of hand sewn pieces is Stefanie Tam’s response to a society that relies on compartmentalization.
Tam believes that many are obsessed with particular parts of identity as defining, particularly race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, religion, and body type. Using needlepoint, which is associated with grandmothers and the old-fashioned, Tam plays with outdated worldviews, depicting the separation and alienation that judgement and hierarchy produce. Tam considers the series a “call for change” and hopes that people will learn to see things “as a spectrum.”
To see more of Gamgam’s Wall, click here.