Winners, Losers & Televangelists: Q&A with fibers artist Kim Pterodactyl

“Miss America 2014″ embroidery floss on heavy-cotton twill, 6″x6”

SAI: There’s an interesting story behind the pseudonym Pterodactyl. Can you explain? 

Kim Pterodactyl: An ex-boyfriend and I thought of it as a memorable surname for the art installations we were creating in Baton Rouge and New Orleans. We were drawn to the combination “PT” in the spelling.

“Miss America 2013″ embroidery floss on heavy-cotton twill, 6″x6”

SAI: Can you tell us a bit about your artistic process? 

Pterodactyl: I’m drawn to absurdities in American culture usually found in our media/advertising. I find a lot of advertising to be useless, pervasive, manipulative, shameless, sensational, offensive and exploitative. This drives me to respond creatively and not in an antagonistic way. I approach visual communication the same way I approach verbal communication, very cautiously, deliberate with an underlying cynicism and humor. My approach seems antithetical to advertising techniques now that I’m thinking about it.


“Tammi Faye”, embroidery floss on heavy-cotton twill

SAI: From what I’ve seen, your biggest series right now focus on Winners, Losers, and Televangelists. What inspired you to begin these series? 

Pterodactyl: I was driving a taxi in New Orleans and therefore following local crime reports. I started to notice trends in mug shot facial expressions and the nature of the crime. I wanted to explore the range of authenticity of emotion captured in existing publicly available photographs. Beauty queens and televangelists exhibit a well-trained emotional output and mugshots are typically the opposite. I was experimenting with embroidery because it’s a manageable process in the cabstands and I discovered it was a great medium for decoding emotion. I like contemplating the sequences of emotional responses and their social acceptance.


“Loser – 1”, embroidery floss on heavy-cotton twill

SAI: Your Winners series focuses on the moment when a Miss America contestant is crowned. What draws you to that specific moment in time? 

Pterodactyl: I wanted to isolate the apex of emotion.


“Loser – 6”, embroidery floss on heavy-cotton twill

SAI: In contrast, Losers is a series of mugshots. What draws you to those? 
Pterodactyl: The mugshots expose a raw vulnerability post-arrest and pre-caging. It’s like an ambiguous emotional public record or underlying narrative. It’s this unintentional byproduct of mandated routine government procedure I want to communicate through the tedious repetitive action of embroidery. Unemotional and methodical action on a small scale is my reverent approach to de-contextualize and preserve a moment.


“Miss Universe 2015″ embroidery floss on heavy-cotton twill, 8″x8”

SAI: What’s next for you? 

Pterodactyl: I have a lot of ideas for creative projects but also want to find a job in the design field.

Kim Pterodactyl recently received her MA in Fibers from SCAD. Click here to see more of her artwork.

Logann Fincher

Author: Logann Fincher

Logann Fincher is a graduate of the Savannah College of Art and Design, with a BFA in Film and Television. She is a curious, passionate and driven artist, who enjoys experimenting with how media works and using it to progressively educate and challenge those around her. She enjoys the collaborative aspects of art and having a direct impact in her community.

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