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"Fili Italiani: A Thousand Years of Needlework"
2004-07-25 until 2004-09-17
Design Museum, at University of California, Davis
Davis, CA, USA United States of America

The exhibition provides an opportunity for the public to see many rare masterpieces most often found only in the private collections in Italy. The viewing of these masterpieces will make us aware of what exquisite art form needlework has been and must continue to be in the twenty- second century. Italy, a land that has given the world great paintings, sculptures and architecture has also made important artistic contributions in the field of needlework, which encompasses embroidery and lace making.

The Italian word for embroidery comes from the Arab word, "rakam". During the Arab rule in Sicily, there was a famous workshop of embroidery in Palermo, Il Tiraz, where important robes and accessories for the emperors were embroidered in silk and gold. In the early years, the professional embroiderers were men and not women. During the renaissance, needle work flourished in all parts of the country. Famous painters like Botticelli, da Vinci and Pollaiolo, designed exquisite embroideries that were realistically interpreted with a technique known as, " dipinto ad ago," painting with a needle. The art of lace making that developed on the island of Burano in the Venetian lagoon in the late Fourteenth Century remained always a feminine art. Each region developed techniques and designs in the needlework reflective of the art and architecture of the place. Today many of these techniques continue to be used usually on a simpler scale then those employed to create the masterpieces of the past.

- Vima deMarchi Micheli, Curator

Vima deMarchi Micheli has been recognized as an innovator in the field of needlework. Born in New York, she began doing needlework in early childhood and pursued this interest throughout her education at some of the finest art institutions. She has traveled extensively, collecting information on both traditional and contemporary techniques, and drawing inspirations for her own designs.

Vima has taught all over the United States (including Hawaii) as well as in Canada, Mexico City and Italy. She was on the faculty of the Else Williams School of Needle arts near Boston. Over the years, Vima has judged many of the major needlework exhibitions in the United States and she regularly teaches at regional and national seminars of the Embroiderer's Guild of America, the American Needlepoint Guild, and other independent fiber organizations. She has been on the faculty at California State University, Sacramento and the University of California, Davis. In addition to teaching and designing, Vima has published over twenty-five instructional books. She continues to write numerous articles for national needlework magazines and trade journals. Examples of her original designs appear in many of the top selling needlework books and magazines.

Vima has been a frequent guest on local radio and television talk shows. She also appeared on the PBS TV program "Arts Alive" to demonstrate and discuss the clothing embellishment techniques she ahs developed. In May 1991, Vima was featured as a leading style maker in the Sunday Arts Section of THE NEW YORK TIMES. One of her Florentine embroidery designs was featured in the April 1991 issue of the internationals magazine, European Travel and Life. In October 1993, Vima was honored by the city fathers of Sansepolcro, Italy, the famous lace-making center. She was unanimously elected to the International Lace Committee as a lifetime member and she received a silver medal from the mayor and president of the group to mark the occasion.

After twelve years in the retail business, Vima sold her business to devote more time to designing, writing and fulfilling the many requests for teaching and lecturing. Vima now has an available two-hour video on needle lace. In 1993, Vima organized the first six-week teaching and lecturing tour of an Italian lace maker in America.

Vima was the curator for the international exhibition, Pani & Fili, Bread & Threads of Italy that has traveled in the United States and Canada and is presently traveling throughout Italy. She wrote the accompanying catalog, which has been published in English and Italian. For the last five years, Vima has been lecturing and teaching in Italy as well as the United States.

In 1996 Vima was appointed by Governor Wilson to serve a three-year term on the first Italian-American task Force in the nation.

Vima takes small groups of travelers to Italy every year to visit needlework artists, leading collectors, museums, boutiques, and trattorias for fine food and wine!

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