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Calling All New BK Parents: Ring This Hotline to Help Make Art

Brooklyn artist Susan Stainman wants to turn your thoughts about being a new parent into art!
Brooklyn artist Susan Stainman is calling on new parents to call her hotline.

Susan Stainman, a Brooklyn resident, new mother and visual artist, is asking for some help from fellow new parents in the borough so she can make art.

Stainman said her new exhibition, In The Family of Things, which opens at the A.I.R. Gallery in Red Hook on May 25, will contain large fabric works with embroidered patterns based on the contents of what new parents say about the joy and pain of being a caregiver to young beings, according to a news release. 

To participate, the artist wants parents to call a hotline: 347-343-4662. Parents can leave voicemails or texts as a method of catharsis, solidarity, or encouragement for themselves and other parents. 

As messages come in, Stainman said she will begin translating them into embroidery patterns based on the contents of what each caller conveys.

Taking cues from encoding techniques, as well as antique cross stitch and embroidery patterns, these patterns vary by design depending upon topic and by color depending on emotional content. Topics covered often by participants, such as feeding, sleeping, and labor, create the edge designs, while topics covered less often are embroidered as flowers and plants in the center of each work.

Though some of the embroidery will be done prior to the exhibition opening, much of the work will be done during gallery hours throughout the exhibition run, allowing the installation to grow and evolve.

The embroidered fabric will be hung high on the walls of the gallery and drape over a seating arrangement, a communal upholstered piece of furniture, so that visitors can recline under the thoughts and feelings of this community of parents.

"While my art practice has focused on intimacy and connection for the last several years, the birth of my son this past December has given me a new perspective," said Stainman. "To be a new parent is to be full of intense and often contradictory emotions almost all the time. This project and body of work is inspired by this period in my life and my desire for connection with other parents in similar situations."

The exhibit will run from May 25 to June 23, 2024 at A.I.R. Gallery, 155 Plymouth Street.