Emma Jane Royer is a visual artist known for her work in textiles and paper. She uses the time and labor-intensive processes of knitting, weaving and sewing as metaphors to explore the delicate, intimate and imperfect texture of our ordinary experience.
In addition to her practice of making, Emma teaches workshops and classes in experimental approaches to traditional fiber techniques for youth and adults. Currently, she is spearheading a new, annual open studio tour event inviting the general public into the creative workspaces of visual artists in North King County, Washington.
Emma has been honored with an Artist Trust GAP Award, 4Culture Individual Artist Project Award, and the Dana and Tori Ann Rust Memorial Fellowship from the Museum of Northwest Art. She was an Artist-In-Residence at the Jentel Foundation in Sheridan, Wyoming and the recipient of the Clowes Foundation Fellowship for a residency at the Vermont Studio Center. Emma has exhibited at numerous institutions including the Center for Contemporary Art in Santa Fe, the Bellevue Art Museum and Gallery4Culture in Seattle, WA. Her artwork is in private and public collections including University of New Mexico Art Museum, Washington University in St. Louis Special Collections Library, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center and John Hancock. Emma earned an MFA from the University of New Mexico, an M.Ed from the University of Washington and a BFA from Washington University in St. Louis.
Knit, woven and sewn, my works in fabric and paper are about love, labor and vulnerability. They are crafted to be durable, and yet are constructed from delicate pieces with repeated imperfections and tenuous connections.
I come from a long line of knitters and needle pointers. The women of my family, who are otherwise rocketed by energy, find a way to be still, to cultivate calmness, and to pass time with this constant binding. They take longs lines of fiber and concentrate time and attention and love into hats and mittens, sweaters and blankets that warm and protect those they hold close.
In 2013, I experienced the sudden death of my partner and adopted this familial ritual as an ordered way to experience my grief. For 18 months, I cut apart and unraveled his clothing and then knit all of it back together, creating a 14x16’ tapestry from the garments that bore the memory of his space. This experience began my fascination with fiber and fabric; my belief in the meaningfulness of objects that we touch on a daily basis; and, a knowing that time and labor are fundamental to my work.
This work has evolved to include weaving and patchwork. I often pare back the color and regulate the composition in order to prioritize the underlying geometries. I privilege seams, methods of construction, binding and attachment, and at times showcase what would traditionally be the back as the front. My work presents a subtle, but compelling, visual conundrum: these pieces are highly regular and totally irregular all at once. It is this tension that brings to light a certain tenderness in the imperfect texture of our ordinary experience.