Calligrapher and fiber artist Han Cao repurposes old photographs by stitching brightly colored flowers and landscapes directly onto each black and white image. Based in Palm Springs, the artist works with found photographs that are 5×7 inches or smaller, attaching multi-colored threads that she hopes alter the old narrative and give new meaning and life to each piece. Often, Cao covers people’s faces, adds tiny, repetitive details to their clothes, or blurs a landscape with her stitches.
Cao writes to Colossal that she purchases most photographs from the flea markets and antique shops she visits while she’s traveling.
There’s thousands upon thousands of vintage photos stuffed inside dusty boxes at these markets—long lost and forgotten by their families, so my work is an attempt to bring them back to life and renew their stories. I’m particularly drawn to images that offer a deeper story—photographs with haunting faces and figures, simple landscapes that can be magically transformed with added dimension and color.
The artist says her plans include creating larger-scale works that use “alternative photograph reproduction methods where I will have more space to explore texture and create extended narratives for these images.” You can follow her mixed-media projects on Instagram and purchase her work on her site.
Do stories and artists like this matter to you? Become a Colossal Member today and support independent arts publishing for as little as $5 per month. You'll connect with a community of like-minded readers who are passionate about contemporary art, read articles and newsletters ad-free, sustain our interview series, get discounts and early access to our limited-edition print releases, and much more. Join now!