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Topic: Saddam Housewarming Gift (PIC HEAVY)  (Read 8937 times)
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« on: September 01, 2008 12:46:19 PM »

It took over 2 months, but I finally finished my embroidery portrait of Saddam (made for a friend as a housewarming gift--she picked the subject!).  I absolutely love it, and I really feel sad that I have to give it away now!  I kept working and working away, finding new things to add, putting off the inevitable. 

At any rate--here it is (the size is roughly 22x22 inches):

and some details:

As you can see, I owe a huge debt here to the work of Jenny Hart.
Please offer comments or suggestions to things I could change/add before giving it to my girlfriend!

New Edit:
I realize this is controversial territory.  I will give you the brief backstory and my defense of the piece (which I stand behindboth in terms of subject matter and aesthetics)

My girlfriend is Assyrian and her family is from Iraq (the three flourishes at the top are taken from ancient Assyrian art).  Despite what we feel we know (in the West), there are still a great number of intelligent people who, while acknowledging Saddam Hussein as a dictator and a political murderer, lived through his regime and do not condemn him in the way (or for the reasons) the west does.   At the risk of sounding inflammatory, we too (yes, in the West) have lived through regimes as sinister and bloodthirsty (or should I say oil thirsty) as that of Saddam. 

I do not condone the actions of *any* of these leaders or dictators.  I do believe, however, that the invasion of Iraq (no WMDs) and the bombing of the Iraqi people was a tragic, inexcusable and ugly farce.  I also believe that Saddam Hussein was executed without the dignity all human beings deserve.  I dont believe in capital punishment, or any other kind of murder for that matter, and his poorly-managed, poorly-executed execution made me feel dirty as a human being.  I also recognize that my opinions regarding the matters of his regime are irrelevant and inherently problematic due to my lack of knowledge; I have not lived in Iraq, I do not know what his leadership was really like, and I dont trust that any of us can possibly know without having been there and lived through it.  We can make him a villain because it is accuratebut I think we (more often than not) make him a villain because it is easy.

Now, aesthetically, I am extremely proud of my piece.  Saddam Hussein has been successfully and playfully satirized (i.e. in South Park, etc.) as a cherubic, sociopathic and psychopathic scamp.  The cute curves of his smiling face are intended to be in tension with what we feel we know lurks beneathjust as the political subject matter is intended to be in tension with the usual benignity of embroidery itself.  This is what I tried to capture in my embroidery.  The curtains are drawn back in a kind of theatre-of-the-absurd setting.  He is surrounded by a glowing halo which is itself licked by flames of fire.  The feeling is intended to be that of excitement, celebration and a healthy dose of humour.
For those who hate Saddam Hussein (with or without good reason), you may focus on the flames and the date of his death and see it as a celebration of the end of his dictatorship.  For those who are ambivalent or find his person intriguing, fascinating or hilarious, I invite you to join the party that the loud colours and movement seem to suggest.   Art doesnt have to be black/white or either/or.  It certainly cannot censor itself by refusing to dabble in the political.

And my friend, the recipient of the work, offered her opinion as well (I thought I'd share to give another perspective)

"Aside from being tired of justifying my like for this man, all I can say is that while no person is made up of just black or just white, we choose to accept people for what they are, warts and all. Why does that make Hussein or any beloved political figure different? What about the supporters of Bush, who has launched bloody illegal wars in this modern and supposedly enlightened age, from a white-washed house in a modern and enlightened nation?

My family being Assyrian goes to show how Saddam isn't what we think him to be. Assyrians, by all accounts, are supposed to hate this man -- for his "regime" and on-going efforts to kill off my people. But there are unheard Assyrians, like other groups, who can only attest to the good things Saddam did for Iraq -- offering across-the-board free education up to and including university, universal QUALITY health care, modernizing Iraq in areas of politics, preserving the history of ALL groups in Iraq, regardless of religion, race, or ethnicity, propelling now-educated women into the highest reaches of medicine, law, and government. And on and on. It's difficult to try and rack up these impressive lists of the good Saddam Hussein has done, but no one cares -- I'm sure most people would skim over the list with an eye-roll anyway, because that's the dismissive Western attitude. But don't worry, Julia, as soon as Bush is back on his ranch sucking down bottles of his favourite rye and a new president is in town, we'll pick a new dark leader to "hate on", interfere with, and maybe execute. Americans aren't comfortable with the black-and-white; there is no grey when it comes to Hussein.

I am aware of the grey -- I know he wasn't an angel, but no leader is. And that's not a justification for whatever misdeeds he carried out against Iraqis or Kuwaitis, it's just an acknowledgement. If you're going to hate a politician, why pick just one?

Your crafter friends mostly seem aware of what beautiful work you've done, as they should. It's interesting...I wonder if it's so jarring because you've chosen such a whimsical treatment (needlepoint) for a man who obviously inspires no whimsy in the hearts of people (except mine)."

« Last Edit: September 01, 2008 09:07:41 PM by weird_lover_wilde » THIS ROCKS   Logged
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« Reply #1 on: September 01, 2008 12:53:17 PM »

wow now that is some amazing stitching.. way to make everyone else look like noobs!

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« Reply #2 on: September 01, 2008 12:59:33 PM »

Beautiful work!
« Last Edit: September 02, 2008 07:34:40 PM by kittykill - Reason: Off topic comments » THIS ROCKS   Logged

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« Reply #3 on: September 01, 2008 01:03:16 PM »

 Grin Fantastic job.....very odd subject, though....... Undecided

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« Reply #4 on: September 01, 2008 01:03:25 PM »

Wow, that is amazing stitching. It really is beautiful with all the color.


« Reply #5 on: September 01, 2008 01:14:30 PM »

Wow, that's amazing!

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« Reply #6 on: September 01, 2008 01:19:11 PM »

Amazing stitching and colors.

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« Reply #7 on: September 01, 2008 01:30:56 PM »

Incredible work.  It is so intricate and detailed beautifully.  I think your friend will love it.  Just out of curiosity, why did she pick this subject?

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« Reply #8 on: September 01, 2008 02:23:44 PM »

whoa, that is amazing...beautiful work
« Reply #9 on: September 01, 2008 02:25:19 PM »

Wow, talk about conflicted. While the composition, colour and stitching is really good,
« Last Edit: September 02, 2008 07:35:25 PM by kittykill - Reason: Off topic comments » THIS ROCKS   Logged
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