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Thursday, June 18th: Han Cao

Han Cao

Today is Thursday, June 18th

Rag & Bone Bindery is open for business

(read our post from Wednesday, March 25th for more information about how we're able to remain open for business)

Hello everyone! This Tuesday at Rag & Bone we’re looking at the "Forgotten Photos" of artist Han Cao, a series of pieces that combine old black and white photographs and colored embroidery. Cao writes that these photos come to her at “sales, antique stores and flea markets from around the world,” “worn and damaged” from their travels from hand to hand, closet to closet. She seeks to bring new life into these lost images, separated from their original keepers who would have been able to tell the stories of the people these artifacts portrayed. Cao states that the stitched additions are specific to each piece, but that the collection of work can be sifted into three broad categories.

Her “General” pieces encompass a variety of images and styles that include adding plant life or beaded starbursts to a photograph to create “extraordinary moments” out of “figures from the ordinary”. Her “Flower Women” series emerged from her observations that women in early-1900s photographs so often took a secondary position in portraits of men and women. In these pieces, Cao stitches beautiful colored flowers over women’s faces and matching botanical designs into their clothing. In this way, she immortalizes the lives and impacts of these women even though their faces are now gone, the flowers covering their heads representing “growth, youth and hope in a world that may not always encourage it”. In Cao’s “Animal” series that features animal heads where human faces would be expected, she seeks to revisit the mythological imagery of animals and humans “merged into figures of wild, symbolic creation”.

You can see more of Han Cao’s work at or visit her Instagram page, @hanwriting, for more beautiful reimaginings of old images– especially her recent “Quarantine Collection”.