Boraz debuts embroidery at Roth Center

by Angel Carrillo Leal | 5/20/14 6:26pm

Shari Boraz was a teenager when she received her first pair of blue jeans, which she described as a breakthrough in culture. When her jeans began to wear with time, she embroidered them.

In college, she participated in a Levi’s contest in which jeans were judged as an artistic medium. By then, her jeans “were a walking sculpture,” she said. Boraz was one of 50 winners who earned an honorable mention and had her jeans displayed internationally.

Now, the Upper Valley Jewish Community and Dartmouth College Hillel are hosting Boraz’s first solo show at The Roth Center for Jewish Life. Titled “2D 4D Fiber Art,” the show features about 20 of Boraz’s embroidery pieces.

Boraz said she was excited to exhibit her work under the Roth Center’s excellent lighting. She is married to the rabbi at the center.

Boraz, who works in the College Fund office, has previously participated in the College’s staff art show, Art Works. Last year, her work was included in the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen Headquarters’s June-Sept. exhibition, and two of her pieces were selected for a Whitney Center for the Arts’s November show, “Fibrous,” showcasing contemporary fiber artists.

Growing up, Boraz said she enjoyed all types of art but always felt a connection to thread. During her first semester as a student at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, she took a weaving class, and the processes of turning thread into cloth and cloth into fabric amazed her, she said.

Boraz pursued a major in textile design, which became a lifelong passion.

As part of her process, Boraz said she reaches a dream-like state and lets her instincts take over, her eyes and hands deciding what to embroider. She said she likes her art to come spontaneously, which is why she prefers embroidery to weaving, as it does not require her to plan her work in advance.

“Being an artist is like being a research scientist — someone who’s thinking something that no one has ever thought of before and you’re doing it all by yourself,” Boraz said. “You don’t know what it is going to lead to.”

The current show’s title reflects how embroidery pieces are two-dimensional to view, but capture the fourth dimension, time, Boraz said. The works in her Roth Center show were not selected to fit a particular theme, she said.

On average, Boraz said each piece takes 320 hours to complete. She spends around 20 hours per week working on her art. She prefers to work from home in her studio, she said.

Most of her pieces are about 18 inches by 18 inches, entirely composed of hand embroidery. Larger pieces can be challenging to frame, she said.

One piece for her Roth Center show, titled “Come Fly with Me,” pictures monarch butterflies, which she said she was inspired to depict because of their rarity. Because the piece totals 35 inches by 32 inches, Boraz said she had to find a poster framing company that could frame it for the show.

She has also experimented with applying resist dye to some of her embroidery on cotton pieces, she said, which creates a mixed-medium effect.

Sonia Meza ’16, who attended the show, said she admired the level of detail in Boraz’s work.

“The image of nature [Boraz] presents reflects what I believe is a unique mix of reality and fiction which, when brought together, stand out in a way you would not be able to create through paint or charcoal,” she said.

Matt Curtin ’14, who also attended the show, said that viewers can appreciate the amount of work that goes into Boraz’s pieces. The colors and the position of the elements, Curtin said, demonstrate “how nature and life actually work together.”

Her show will run until June 15.