Friend Me

Kathy Halper
When Kathy Halper "friended" her children on Facebook, she was exposed to an entirely different side of their lives. Her tongue-in-cheek, Facebook-inspired embroideries explore how technology affects the modern mother/child relationship.
3 Grlz:" I make out with random ppl when I drink so he shouldn't feel special"


My series of embroidered drawings based on photos posted on Facebook by teenagers explores issues of privacy between parent and child and the public and questions the new boundaries being pushed by the digital age.   How different being a parent is for this generation in light of Facebook! Teenagers and young adults have always pushed boundaries and taken risks. But this is the first generation with a camera in their hand at all times and a place to post their adventures publicly.  Never before have parents had the ability to literally see what their kids are doing when they're not with them. And like everything else, there are some wonderful things about this new technology, as well as some not so wonderful things. I found inspiration in that.

As a mother of teenage children, I welcomed the opportunity that Facebook gave me to gain insight into their social lives. Through my kid's photos and photos posted by their friends, I felt a large canvas was being painted of a world that parents weren't allowed to see before the digital era. Hundreds of images of kids dancing, hugging, partying, and laughing expressed the joy and energy that pours from them. But I also would see photos I knew I wasn't really supposed to be seeing: kids drinking, smoking, making out, making obscene gestures. I am fascinated by what i see, sometimes disturbed and concern, more often in awe of their beauty and exuberance and passion for life.

I think the parent in me thought that if I created art using these images, I might be able to better understand and even control their behavior somehow. Of course this isn't possible. But by embroidering I am using a craft historically associated with home and domesticity, and this makes me feel somehow present in their lives. The text that accompanies each image was found from other online social sources; pairing the text and images creates a new narrative and takes the images further from their original source, giving me distance from the personal connection. Rendered in sparse yet telling detail, the embroideries reference traditional needlecraft while being completely of the moment.

The dialogue that emerges from this series questions issues of privacy and the demise of privacy, innocence and loss of innocence, and does so with a sense of humor and the delicate line of a mother’s thread.

About The Artist 

Kathy Halper is a self-taught artist who, having painted for many years, only recently returned to her childhood love of crafts to further develop her figurative art. Her work has been shown at Packer Schopf Gallery in Chicago, the Textile Arts Center in New York, Union League Club of Chicago, the University of Illinois in Chicago, Gallery Mornea, Saint Xavier University, ARC Gallery, and other galleries. Halper received the “Best of Show” award in “Positive/Negative 24”, an annual nationwide exhibition held at Slocum Gallery in East Tennessee State University. Her work has been featured in Mr. X Stitch’s “The Cutting (and Stitching) Edge”, the world’s leading blog dedicated to contemporary needlecraft and embroidery. She lives in Highland Park, Illinois with her husband and children. Learn more at .