MAIDEN ROCK -- From the island nation of Madagascar, located off the southeastern coast of Africa, to their U.S. debut exhibition at Cultural Cloth in Maiden Rock, the finely detailed embroidered works by Stitch St. Luce have traveled 9,488 miles.

For the women of Stitch St. Luce, the path to mastering their artistry is an equally long route filled with determination and triumph.

The project began in 2012 by Sarah Brown, an embroidery artist from the U.K. Brown was touring the country when she came upon a community of embroiderers whose skill was not being passed along because of lack of financial opportunity. Motivated to help them develop their artistry so they might lift themselves out of poverty, Brown moved to Madagascar. Over three years, she developed Stitch St. Luce, an embroidery project now working with 23 highly skilled artisans. Their success has ripple effects extending beyond theie families and into the communities as role models for social change.

Stitch St. Luce’s embroideries portray Malagasy folk tales such as “The Hedgehog With The Crocodile” and “Why The Cat And The Rat Are No Longer Friends.”

Cultural Cloth co-founder Mary Anne Wise said “It’s their extraordinary craftsmanship that caught my eye. Through our work at Cultural Cloth we have an opportunity to view a lot of embroidery from all over the world, but the embroideries of Stitch St. Luce stood apart. It’s the quality of their stitching, very fine and they employ a variety of stitches, such as a painter might create with a brush, that are masterful. This work needs to be seen by a wide audience because these pieces are an important contribution to the field of hand work.”

The exhibition opens during the Fresh Art Tour, a self guided tour of 16 galleries and artist studios in Pierce and Pepin counties June 3-5, and continues through the end of the month.

Submitted by Mary Anne Wise