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Activism Via Needle-and-thread -- One Woman Artist's Mission for Generating Change & Encouraging Dialogue

Cross-stitch commentary by Laura O'Connor.

The common thread weaving throughout Laura O’Connor’s artwork is her thoughtful commentary on societal issues that are especially meaningful to her – particularly about the female experience. She uses the medium of embroidery and cross-stitch to express her ideas – an artform that has primarily been the domain of women over centuries.

She says, “This is how I work through my frustration over politics along with discrimination or violence against women. And it’s also a way to document those funny, little things about life.”

Although she shows great natural skill, she didn’t take up embroidery until the time of Covid. Her boys were then ages five and seven. With the remote learning they were required to do, she needed to stay in close proximity to help them stay engaged. That turned out to be the perfect time for her to stay engaged herself by learning a new hobby – embroidery.

“With handwork like embroidery, interruptions are never an issue,” this busy mom explains. “It’s a portable craft and I find it takes more to time to come up with the concept. I like taking a traditionally woman’s craft and using it for activism.”

By promoting topics she’s passionate about, she can help generate dialogue for viewers especially between generations.

“The messaging I put on my work can help initiate conversation between mothers and daughters about serious issues,” she says.

Over the years, she had tried many different types of art such as colored pencil, watercolor and acrylic, but embroidery was it for her. She could pick it up and put it down according to family demands on her time.

To stay current, she spends much time reading the news and watching Tik Tok. She also keeps an art journal where she collects interesting quotes or happenings that can later be spun into another art project.

She especially enjoys creating a series such as her T-shirt girls – pictured below. Also, she’ll add embroidery to found items like vintage postcards or photographs. She combs through thrift stores where she can repurpose fabrics like antique linens – handkerchiefs, pillowcases or table runners.

Because math and science were her natural forte (she holds a degree in biology), she feels comfortable creating grid-like art patterns so that she has a structure to work within.

“Although I’d describe myself as a very logical person, I always took art classes,” she says. “I loved arts and crafts growing up but wasn’t interested in entering the art field once I was older.”

Now a needle and thread are always in her hands where she joins a long line of women over time immemorial using their needlecrafts as a vehicle for political expression and commentary on society.  Needling “the powers that be” is sometimes a very necessary act!

Laura accepts commissions and is in her second year as an affiliate artist of the Blue Moon Gallery in Grayslake, IL where her artwork can be found on their website: Artists | Art for Sale — Blue Moon Gallery (

Email her for more information at:


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