Aubrey Longley-Cook’s work combines the practices of animation and embroidery and draws inspiration from the process of building each frame and sewing each stitch. He is inspired by GIF culture, the queer community, and work that integrates domestic practices with social media. He uses embroidery to tell the story of people within the LGBTQ community and members of his own family.
Longley-Cook’s interest in drag queen culture and, specifically, RuPaul – the celebrity drag queen who was active in Atlanta in the 80s and early 90s. “[RuPaul] made drag accessible to a general audience,” he says. In 2013, Longley-Cook created a four-week “RuPaul Cross-Stitch Animation Workshop,” a community-based art project that drew 35 participants from various fields with an interest in learning to cross-stitch and/or RuPaul and drag queen culture. Longley-Cook extracted a 35-frame sequence from RuPaul’s 1993 music video “Supermodel” and gave each participant a different pixelated pattern to stitch. Each piece ended up in an animation, created by Longley-Cook, of the iconic drag queen.
Longley-Cook’s embroidery work is meticulous and he always shows the back of his works because he believes it’s important to see the ugliness, messiness, and hard work that goes into the beauty. He compares it to what goes on behind the scenes at drag shows. The hours that drag queens spend getting dressed and made up also correspond to the hours that go into making a cross-stitch. It is, he says, the “chaos behind the order and the stubble behind the makeup.
Aubrey Longley-Cook’s residency and community engagement projects are supported in part by a 2016 grant from the Charlotte Lesbian and Gay Fund at Foundation for the Carolinas, Wells Fargo, and the Windgate Charitable Fund.