Richard Bassettʼs handmade needlepoint pillows maneuver a tension between difficult, but familiar, photographic images, and the soft faces of objects that are more often associated with domestic kitsch. His first two series of pillows, Dallas and Comfort Level displayed scenes of violent crimes. Dallas drew on documentation from the assassination of John F. Kennedy, and in Comfort Level, Bassett rendered images taken from security cameras during convenience store robberies.
Bassettʼs most recent series is of cats and dogs, more common subjects for pillows. However, whereas a typical scene might depict a happy, anthropomorphized pet, the pillows in Options show the sad breakdown of that fantasy: animals who have been abused or abandoned and are now in the pound. In our culture, animals are bred for the purpose of serving human needs. Domesticated cats and dogs are dealt the difficult task of providing comfort and company, making them utterly vulnerable to human whim. This becomes especially clear when these animals end up in shelters.
Bassett has commented that for him these new pillows are about, “a total lack of control, self-determination, and choice in oneʼs life,” his subjects are “at the total mercy of someone else.” The expression on the faces of these animals is one of plaintive desperation, and the bars that obscure their images are a poignant reminder of the arbitrary yet significant barriers and obstacles that can beset all lives, animal and human alike.
Options will open on Thursday, February 7th and a reception will be held for the artist on Saturday February 9th from 3:00 to 5:00. The show will run through March 9th.