Zoe Sheehan Saldana, "Untitled", 2000, cross-stitch on cotton

Zoe Sheehan Saldana, “Untitled”, 2000, cross-stitch on cotton

Zoë Sheehan Saldaña

Who are we looking at? Why are we looking at them? Who are they to us, or to each other? Why do some of them seem to look so familiar?

Combining photography and embroidery, Zoë Sheehan Saldaña takes found photographs and transforms them into meditations on identity and individuality. First digitally scanning them, Saldaña deconstructs them by removing information (via pixels) from random places, leaving us with open-ended portraits. Finally the portraits are output via a computerized sewing machine onto canvas. Saldaña takes inspiration from the resulting ghostlike portrayals of the individuals and re-names them.

Viewing the stitches slows down the looking process, and allows the viewer to meditate on each stitch and see how it contributes to the whole of the person. We find that “getting closer doesn’t necessarily mean seeing more clearly.”[3] Saldaña’s embroidered portraits ask how much information do we require to identify or know someone (through a photograph)? Her arrangement of the embroidered portraits brings forth the possibility of a group of friends, possibly a family, or a random crowd. The clustering makes them a group solely within the context of the wall on which they appear – raising the idea that once removed from the source, an image (in this case an image of a face) can be whatever and whomever we project it to be.

Zoë Sheehan Saldaña was born in Northampton, Massachusetts. She has studied at Oberlin College where she earned a BA degree in 1994 and at the Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, NY where she earned her MFA in 1998. Her work has been featured in group shows including It’s About Time at the SPAS Gallery in Rochester, NY, the 1998 Everson Biennial at the Everson Museum in Syracuse, NY, ArtWired International at the University of Houston, Houston, TX, and New American Talent 16 at the Texas Fine Arts Association in Austin, TX where she received the Juror’s Merit Award. Her most recent solo exhibition was Bee-ing  at the SPAS Gallery. Additionally she has had residencies at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Skowhegan, Maine (2000) and at Light Work in Syracuse, NY (2001). Saldaña has taught photography at the Rochester Institute of Technology, and currently teaches photography and digital imaging at Bergen County Community College in Paramus, New Jersey. Saldaña lives in New York City.