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Art & Life with Kayleigh McElwain

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kayleigh McElwain.

Kayleigh, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
I am an embroidery artist in Cincinnati, and really just started to get into the art scene here in the last year. Growing up, I was taught to cross stitch by my mom, and to crochet by my grandmother. I always enjoyed it, but never really immersed myself in it. Our upbringing was more focused on the musical arts. I also enjoyed messing around with drawing and other art forms, but never took the time or had the time to grow those skills. I started playing around with embroidery last year after finding some of the “subversive” hoops on Pinterest with the intent to give them as gifts. I really enjoyed those first few pieces and found that I had a knack for it. I have anxiety and OCD and I find that the embroidery process is really relaxing for me and quiets my anxious thoughts while giving my brain something detailed and enjoyable to fixate on. It’s been really gratifying to nourish this creative side of me that I’ve never had to opportunity to explore before now and to find that I’m good at it and really do enjoy it.

Can you give our readers some background on your art?
I started making these hoops when my daughter was an infant and I had a good amount of free time on my hands. I’d never really had the luxury of much free time for myself to just explore my creativity. I was going through some intensely personal things, and it was really cool to just create for the sake of creating for the first time in my life. My favorite pieces are ones that might be considered more controversial. I really like the juxtaposition of traditional embroidery styles combined with modern and often “profane” language, references or imagery. I also really enjoy custom orders. They often take me outside of my comfort zone or make me explore color palettes that I wouldn’t normally choose, and I love that. I love the challenge of putting someone else’s thoughts onto the fabric or drawing up the design they didn’t know they wanted.

I chose the name Imperfectly Peachy not to be a reflection of my work, because I’m very proud of what I put out, but more as a statement of how life has molded me. Is everything perfect? Decidedly not. But it is good and beautiful. It’s a reminder to me to try to be positive and appreciate how much I have in my life, which I struggle with. So, it’s imperfect. Imperfectly peachy.

What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
I have about ten pieces featured at Fathom House Art Gallery in Cincinnati. They have been a big part of my introduction to, and growing appreciation for, the local art scene here – which is so much bigger and richer than I realized. I try to make a few new hoops for each exhibit they put on, most recently the Wild exhibit, and Woman! Exhibit. I have an Etsy shop and a fledgling website, which will eventually be my main online presence. Everyone can visit those sites, view more of my work, including commissions, on my Instagram and Facebook accounts.

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