Greg Der Ananian
Three Cotton embroidery floss cross-stitch on 14 count aida cloth
10 inch sq. pillows (each)
Greg Der Ananian
Installation view
(l-r) Lohner, Der Ananian, Robinson (foreground), Faulk/Johnstone.
Greg Der Ananian

I started crafting at a very young age, taught by my mother how to knit and cross-stitch.  I dropped the hobbies sometime in high school, having become bored and frustrated with the available imagery and patterns from which to work. In college I resumed an interest in crafting and began to stitch based on patterns that I design.  In 2001 I created an event called Bazaar Bizarre, one of the very first "alternative" craft events that has since grown to take place in Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Cleveland and Austin.  In october 2005 Penguin/Viking published my book "Bazaar Bizarre: Not Your Granny''s Crafts." I continue to produce craft events and host a weekly craft night for gay men.

The driving cultural theme behind all of my work is cultural reproduction and its complications.  Queers do not generally engage in biological reproduction with their sexual/romantic partners in the way that straight people do.  Chosen families and alternate traditions are central to the queer community.

The passing down of knowledge through a medium such as crafts is one mode of reproduction in which we engage.  I may not be having a child anytime soon, but I reproduce through my work and by teaching and sharing crafts with others.  The notion of tradition is troubled by identity and practice.  Handicrafts are a particularly gendered medium, and as a gay man who cross-stitches, I disrupt the facile association of crafts with femininity - not that I am all butch or anything.  Additionally, by using sexual imagery I am at once problematizing the imagined aesthetic of these historic techniques while simultaneously perpetuating an aspect of crafting as a way of showcasing one's wifely attributes.  My crafting makes explicit the underlying sexual economy of concepts such as the sampler, whereby young women could demonstrate literacy and domestic skill.  Identity and practice fracture in queer crafting, because the tradition of crafts never intended for its audience or participants to be queer.  However, even though queer crafters complicate this notion of tradition, our entrance into the uncharted waters - as seen by traditional handicrafts - of homosexuality, perversion, and generally abject gutter-stuff does not cancel out our knowledge or participation in these traditions.  I used to knit with porn performers in LA, and they did not lose their ability to knit once they acted in their first porno.  The tactile, warm and fuzzy medium of cross-stitched pillows itself juxtaposes identity and practice.  By creating objects meant to be touched and symbolize comfort and the home and such as pillows, while inscribing them with images that are distinctly not of the home, I’m trying to force a confrontation and return of once-devalued subjectivity into the fold of family, tradition and history.

All works property of Greg Der Ananian.  The dates reflect date of the piece photographed, but except for the Bill Arning and Jerk-Off pillows, i make many multiples of the same pieces in different colors.

Greg Der Ananian
Cherry Pie ( 2007)
Cotton embroidery floss cross-stitch on 14 count aida cloth
10 inch sq. pillow
Greg Der Ananian
Cocksucker (2008)
Cotton embroidery floss cross-stitch on 14 count aida cloth
10 inch sq. pillow
Greg Der Ananian
I Love Seamen (2008) 
Cotton embroidery floss cross-stitch on 14 count aida cloth
6 inch sq. pillow