Aheneah – Stitching the walls


What is your story with embroidery?
I grew up seeing my great-grandmothers, my grandmothers and my mother sew, knit and embroider together. I still see them exchanging magazines and advice. It was inevitable that I would try. I wanted to be part of this “club”. As soon as I had free time, I wanted to learn something new.

Choices… © Matilde Cunha
Aheneah ©Matilde Cunha

But one day I discovered cross stitch and my vision of embroidery completely changed. While I was taking my Graphic Design class, I saw my grandmother cross stitching a kitchen towel and I was amazed: I realized that the cross stitches were like pixels. Two formats from two generations, one very traditional, made by hand, the other born of digital evolution.

Aheneah working on Matriz ©Pedro Seixo Rodrigues
Aheneah working on Matriz ©Pedro Seixo Rodrigues
Matriz © Pedro Seixo Rodrigues

As a graphic design student, pixels were my work tool. It only took one step for me to understand the full potential of cross stitch. I didn’t think long before I started exploring and moving to another level. The influence of graffiti was very important and led me to go “outside”. What I hadn’t expected was to find myself facing a cross stitch piece larger than me, having to physically go very close to see the details and textures and take a good distance to see the whole piece.
Today I no longer do traditional embroidery: my work is the de-construction of cross stitch.

Go big or go home © Aheneah
No glass to hold me © Aheneah

What is your creative process?
I often say that I keep jumping from analog to digital and vice versa. I always start by working on my digital program to organize my project. It goes faster that way for me. After which, I switch to manual production. I must say that this is the phase that enriches me the most. Not only because it allows me to work with my dream team (my grandmothers and my mother) but also because it allows me to meet people, to be in contact with them. I often have to work in a different city or in a different workshop and these connections are very valuable. I am amazed that my work has a communication aspect. Sharing my techniques with the people who live there, making them part of the project, listening to their stories, their desires, their ideas allows me to be always inspired and to keep moving forward.

Semear (Semer) © Rute Ferraz
Switch Over © Aheneah

Do you consider your work to be embroidery?
Yes, because my technique was born from the teachings of traditional embroidery. It’s not so much who it is now that is important, but where it came from. The future is to discover a new meaning in things, while keeping the roots and the lessons learned.

What is the concept behind your work?
My goal is to build communication between different generations, cultures or origins. Of course, each new installation carries with it a different message that depends on the work, the place, the people who participate in it or who are affected. But my desire remains to participate in creating a dialogue and making the community continue to evolve.
Through my art, I’m sure I still have a lot to discover and share. There are so many things that exist that still need to be highlighted.

Your works are installed outside, aren’t you afraid that they will be damaged?
What I like most is precisely this ephemeral aspect. Nothing lasts in this world. For me, it’s magic not to know what’s going to happen, to see how each piece reacts to its context, how it will transform.


The content of this site is free and is not damaged by un-welcomed publicity. I do this work with love and passion but it requires a lot of time. I would like to continue to offer a wider market to our artists, to show how embroidery is a wonderful art. But I do need a little bit of help. If you feel like it, you can participate with a little donation to help me continue. I will be so grateful! Thank you! Claire