with BODY ELECTRIC by Sally Wagley

Engine’s upcoming opening on June 30 Current Events features work by Harpswell artist Cynthia Davis. Included in the exhibition will be Body Electric, Winthrop artist Sally Wagley’s embroidery on fabric. Both artists use embroidery in non-traditional ways, with Davis stitching fabric onto paper with underlying drawings and Wagley using embroidery to create drawings of the human form. The opening runs from 5:00–8:00pm at Engine, 128 Main Street in Biddeford, and coincides with the Biddeford+Saco ArtWalk. The exhibition will run through July 22.

Engine is focusing its curatorial interest primarily on exhibitions centered on innovation, design, design to market and creative endeavors in all genres that harken to Biddeford’s heritage in the industrial and textile design and makers fields.


Mapping the nodes: exploring the textures of impressions and the forging of words with water.

There are three main nodes in my work. The first is mark making, writing, and drawing. The second is images of maps and map making utilizing the technique of collage. The third is the creation of curtains, veils, webs, and nets.

In this work, I use mark capturing and patterning with thread to visually express the textures of sense experience, conversations between the interior and the exterior, and impressions of the in-between. The tension between mark and page becomes the surface for reading and revealing the fleeting, elusive, and transitory moments between lost and found.

BIO: Cynthia Davis currently resides in Harpswell, Maine. She holds a MFA from the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth in Fibers, and a BFA in Printmaking from the Portland School of Art now know as the Maine College of Art. Her advanced studies in art include attendance at University of Southern Maine, University of Colorado, Boulder, School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and Studio Art Centers International, Florence, Italy.


The human body has always been a subject of great interest to me, as it is to most of us. The body emerges from another, larger body. The body moves, takes nourishment, and excretes.  It breathes in and it breathes out. It sweats. It grows and changes. The body covers itself with clothes. The body preens; it admires itself; it critiques itself. It attracts and is attracted to, seeking out other bodies. It performs feats, it accomplishes, and it disappoints. It mates with other bodies, producing new, smaller bodies. The body rests. The body enjoys the prime of its life.   The body matures, and it mellows, and it slows. The body softens and puckers. It bends and changes its shape. The body takes on a quality of translucence. The body dies and becomes food.

My work is a mediation on all of the above, intimately examining the minutiae associated with the body and its processes. While celebrating all that we think of as conventionally beautiful, I also seek to celebrate the signs of aging and bodily decline, through appreciation of all the nuances of the body’s changing shape, texture and color.

My most recent work is a series drawn from images in a classic anatomy text from the early 20th century. What started for me as research in connection with a figure drawing turned into an enchantment with these scientific renderings: images of a male figure as it assumes various poses:  inclined, contracted, extended and flexed.

I found I was also drawn to the text of the book, which explains in extensive (and tedious) detail what happens to each and every muscle as the figure moves. Sentence fragments, removed and taken out of context, become a kind of found poetry, or literary collage, as a companion to each image.

In a world dominated by painting and other traditional media, I anticipate the question:  why fiber? why needle and thread? To which I respond, why not? Sewing is what I do and what I have always done, having learned it from my mother who learned it from her sisters.  It lends itself particularly well to the depiction of muscles and other soft tissue because muscles, like thread, twist, stretch, become lax, knot and tear.

BIO: Sally Wagley lives in Winthrop, Maine, and practices law in addition to sewing.