Essay by Sunita Patterson

foreword to Microcosms catalog

Green Vase, 6.4cm (2.5
Green Vase
6.4cm (2.5″) diameter 1998
Cotton, silk, and metallic threads on wool

A microcosm encapsulates “in miniature the characteristic qualities or features of something much larger” (Oxford American Dictionary). Tom Lundberg’s embroidered microcosms provide glimpses into a man’s expansive questions, musings, memories, and dreams. For three decades, Lundberg has been documenting his thoughts in these carefully rendered compositions.

In this lovely opportunity to see many of Lundberg’s works together, we can sense the scope of his thoughts over time. From symbolic objects to the vast cosmos, themes recur, in new contexts, across decades. Some recent works retain the forms and neat borders the artist has embraced for years; other new pieces are larger, more open, juxtaposing stitches against cloth.

For me, Lundberg’s works speak to intuition as much as to reason. The representations are clear—the moon, a flip-flop (the Japanese zori), pruned branches—but their context is elusive. There is a hint of a memory. A remnant of a thought. A story almost told. Each work reflects an intriguing balance between the spoken and unspoken. Seen on the wall or on the page, each work has a quiet depth, inviting continued reflection.

That Lundberg creates so much room for reflection in such small and personal works is remarkable indeed.

Sunita Patterson
Editor, Fiberarts magazine, 2000–2008