Sumi Foley

January 18, 2009


Sumi Foley is a fabric artist working in Claremont, California.  I have been aware of Sumi’s work for many years now.  There is a piece by her hanging in my mother’s kitchen.  The intricacy of the design, needlework, conception, layout, the arrangement of fabrics, the narrative strands literally woven out of thread by hand continuously take me aback.  Often, looking at Sumi’s work one is overcome by the sensation that one is remembering a dream, or has momentarily stepped from their own dream into another’s dream.  There, the distinction between humans and animals is erased, landscapes fly out into impossible directions, one’s eye gives in to irrepressible hope.  

– Lily Robert-Foley




Artist’s Statement:

          I love sewing. When I was a child, I learned sewing from my grandmother. I used to imitate her when she was sewing.

         Later, I became interested in needlework. My special interest is in making art work out of Kimonos. Here is a story about why I started making art work from Kimonos:

         One day I stopped by my grandmother’s house. She was putting a lot of Kimonos in a plastic bag and said “I don’t need these Kimonos.” I was immediately interested because these were the fabrics I had always wanted to have. I asked her to give me all of them. Since that day, I have been an enthusiastic fabric artist.

         I also love to use abandoned fabrics for my work. Each fabric has a beautiful design and color, even if it is abandoned. If I use the abandoned fabric in the right spot and the right way, its beauty stands out. It is very thrilling for me to transform old Kimonos and abandoned fabrics into beautiful art work.

         I think the same thing can be said about human beings. Each person has a wonderful talent. If we accept each person’s value in a right way, we will be able to create a wonderful society. This is the message expressed through my abandoned-fabric art.

         My work is all hand done, because I want to express very fine lines and designs which I can not express when I use a sewing machine. Although it takes many months to make a piece of art this way, I like handmade work. 

We are just like a piece of fabric

Each has a different pattern

Each has a different color

Each has a different story

Through each life

Let’s sew us together



And make a beautiful story

For the next generation


                                                                                                            Sumi Foley


View more of Sumi’s work here:

Some upcoming shows by Sumi Foley in Pomona and Pasadena:

Sumi Foley, Cindy Rinne, Tomoko Suzuki & Penn Weldon
At: Bunny Gunner Gallery
Through Feb. 7, 2009
Last Saturday reception: Jan. 31, 6-9pm
266 W. Second St.
Pomona, CA 91766

“Hearts & Flowers XXII”
At The Folk Tree
Jan 24-Feb 21, 2009
Reception: Jan. 24, 2-6pm
217 S. Fair Oak Ave.
Pasadena, CA. 91105

“ALL U CAN EAT 2009”
At: Bunny Gunner Gallery
Feb 14- Mar 11, 2009
Reception: Feb 14, 6-11pm
Last Saturday reception: Feb 28, 6-10pm
266 W. Second St.
Pomona, CA 91766


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