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Renie Breskin Adams

Fear, Laughter and the Unknown
1978
cotton and linen
30 x 23 3/4 in.
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the Council of American Embroiderers on the occasion of the 25th Anniversary of the Renwick Gallery

At first glance this lush embroidery appears to be a small Oriental carpet. Indeed, the basic pattern, the colorful but muted palette, and the dense nubby pile were inspired by the time-honored tradition of carpet weaving in western and central Asia. Using whimsical, yet disturbing, cartoon images, Renie Breskin Adams infuses the embroidery with autobiographical details. Although unreadable, these cryptic ideograms convey to the viewer that a story is being told.