HIP HOP CROSS-STITCH
If you do what you love, you will live a happy and fulfilled life, even if it takes you 40 hours to embroider Notorious B.I.G.’s You’re Nobody, Till Somebody Kills You, with a deer on an 18” by 12” piece of fabric.
Davey Gravy, a Calgary born ACAD graduate, has a knack for making an art that most associate with what grandmothers do as their pastime at the old folks’ home. He is a hip hop stitch artist. The concept is simple: embroidered hip hop, while keeping it clean.
“It’s a reflection of me, I keep it clean, I am a white kid, that (stitching) is the grandma part, and the hip hop is my interest,” he says. The fact Gravy and I are sitting at the Big Cheese over poutine and soda pops seems fitting for a guy that goes by the last name Gravy.
Gravy always needs to be on the move. Just recently, he has managed to be able to turn his brain off and lay on his bed staring at the ceiling. I found this hard to process considering most his stitching takes from 40-60 hours, and with 75 different pieces that is somewhere between 140-170 days of mindless repetition. “It amuses me that you can do this action that is relatively mindless and make something beautiful. My mom doesn’t really understand what I do, but she grabs me frames and has been pushing me to do a Hall and Oats piece for her.”
The idea to make his work vulgar seemed too simple, along with out of character. He is right, he is a clean, Calgarian white boy. He doesn’t drink nor smoke and not a curse word was said throughout the entire interview. “Part of me doesn’t want to make it vulgar. It’s too obvious, but I want to push the boundary, it’s hip hop, not a shock factor.”
He is an intelligent guy that puts a lot of thought into what he is stitching. He took a pair of Supras, stitched the faces of Tupac and Biggie, so if you wore them West vs. East would be represented on the correct sides. Stitches of iconic hip hop artists are present in his work as well (Mos Def, Common, Lil’ Wayne, Run DMC, and Danger Doom). “I only have about 10% of my work. Where my friends have sold 10% of their work, having to give or get rid of it. That’s my goal,” It’s easy to believe that he has no problem selling his work, I have found myself almost buying something numerous times.
“Do you think it’s too late to mow the lawn when I get home?” he asks me at the end of the interview. It’s pushing nine o’clock and, at the start of September, the sun is fading quickly, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Gravy was mowing the lawn at his parents’ place that night listening to Scenario LP Mix by Tribe Called Quest on a mix tape on a yellow Sony Walkman in the dark.
By Danni Bauer