Risa Horowitz


AAGHHOOOPPRRSTT :: ASTROPHOTOGRAPH | 2014 | vinyl, photos, blank scrabble board, cross stitch

Cross Stitch Scan

cross stitch of Omega Centauri Globular Cluster, 10x10"

This work is part of the Word Problems exhibition conceived by Jeff Nye, artist, curator, and former director of the Elsie Scherle Gallery at Last Mountain Lake Cultural Centre in Regina Beach, Saskatchewan. This three person exhibition also includes the work of Ross Melanson and Loretta Paoli. The exhibition was coordinated by Noreen Neu and Kristen Taetart.


Cross Stitch Scan Detail

detail of cross stitch of Omega Centauri Globular Cluster, 10x10"

blank board

Blank Scrabble Board, 16x16"

Installation view

vinyl wall installation, Elsie Scherle Gallery

Installation view

vinyl wall installation, Elsie Scherle Gallery

The work is inspired by my investigation of work and hobby and my fascination with Scrabble and astronomy. Included are responsive text and image works: a ~20,000 stitch cross-stitch work of the Omega Centauri globular cluster; photographs derived from the cross-stitch pattern; all the words derived from the letters that form the title of the body of work; and a Beckettsian Scrabble board with no end-game in sight.


In Scrabble the meanings of words are practically irrelevant to developing expertise in the game. Competitive players study lists of words in order to yield high scores, and such memory-based word study often becomes a part of daily routine. Playing the game is a time of social silence that is deeply focused, analytic, intellectual, and intuitive. That contemplative experience is oddly mirrored in the slow, methodical, and repetitive experience of cross-stitching Omega Centauri, which is the largest globular cluster in our galaxy. The mapping of globular clusters helped us to understand the shape and scale of the Milky Way, and also our position within it: they form part of our slow progress from geocentric, to heliocentric, to galactic, to cosmic conceptions of the universe and our place (or purpose) within it. The stitching is also connected to ways of passing the time often associated with women's leisurely work.


The game board and the cross-stitch fabric are so easily connected to the formal grid of the raster image: the individual tiles, stitches, or pixels which are individually, on the micro level, devoid of specific meaning yet are nonetheless imbued with private and productive moments, on the macro level, of existential solitude and the grandiosity of the cosmos.

Updated June 2024 | Acknowledgements | Copyright ©1998-2024 Risa Horowitz