18 Artists Unleash Wild, Expressive Embroidered Patches

The favorite self-labeling device of punk youth and army grunts gets a gallery show.

By Eden Dawn May 19, 2017

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The pile of patches to be on display at Emblematics.

Used to cover holes in a sleeve, emblazon “John” on a uniform, or proudly portray a love for the Misfits across the back of a denim jacket, embroidered patches have long been an important part of fashion for functional and aesthetic reasons.

Todd Richardson, owner of local company Ways & Means, produces top-notch woven labels and patches for designers of all sorts, and knows how important patches have become to us on a personal level. “I had recently created some patches for other artists, and had this idea to try and make an art show around them. But I wasn't quite sure how to bring it to life,” he says about the impetus for Emblematics, an art show on display at Yanagida Projects.

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Adam Garcia's patch for Emblematics.

Richardson bought on local artist Adam Garcia and his company the Pressure to recruit 18 artists to each design an embroidered patch that represented something important to them. “Embroidered patches have traditionally been used to signify roles, status and organization—always rife with symbolism," Garcia says. The idea of Emblematics is for each artist to create a new, custom patch that explores a personal story, to represent how artists communicate through symbols, explore catharsis, and project those stories into the public.”

Pulling together artists from around the nation–including Grammy-nominated Eric Timothy Carlson, Stacey Rozich, Erik Marinovich, Dan Christopherson, Thomas Bradley, and Nishat Akhtar–the show will feature custom patches, and the personal stories behind them. Each patch, manufactured locally in Portland by Ways & Means, is available for purchase, as well as a handful of custom satin varsity jackets, with each of the artist’s patches already applied.

Garcia shares the story of his own patch in a preview of the show: “Time is an ocean, slowly crashing waves against our shores. And it can erode our sense of self as experiences, moments; life can shift our own ideas of who we are. My last year has met a lot of change, a slow tide that has reached a point where I realized I needed to challenge my definitions of what I am, and what I'm supposed to be. The triangle, held by the hand, is the alchemical symbol for water, held in an askew peace sign. This patch is a reminder to find comfort living in the liminal, diving headfirst into change, and embracing formlessness. Like water.”


Thru June 9, Yanagida Projects, FREE 

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