art + history

The Story Behind the CAA’s Embroidered Banners

Get to know the CAA's embroidered banners


Curious about the meaning behind the six embroidered banners in Game Room / Cherry Circle Room and how they were made? Take a peek into the conflicting ideas represented within each piece and the process of creating each one – we sat down with their creator, textile artist Meghan McAleavy.

Mcaleavy photographed by Autumn Spadaro

McAleavy photographed by Autumn Spadaro

How did you begin working with textiles?

I had been interested in sewing since a very young age. My grandmother babysat me as a toddler and she taught me basic crafts, such as hand sewing, embroidery, and how to crochet. This is when my interest was really sparked. In 2005, I received a BFA in Fiber Arts from Oregon College of Art & Craft.

How did you come to partner with CAA for these banners?

Doubleday & Cartwright, the agency that concepted the banners, was familiar with the work I was doing for tattoo artists – a lot of solo banners to hang up at conventions. They reached out to me as the classic style of those banners was in line with the style you would see in men’s clubs back in the 50s. It ended up being a great opportunity to team up!

What’s your creative process? 

I begin each banner with a thumbnail line drawing. I then use a Xerox machine to enlarge the drawing in sections and bring it scale. Most banners take me anywhere from 40 to 60 hours, sometimes longer.

Most of my banner work is a combination of appliqué and free-motion embroidery. Free motion embroidery is when you attach a special foot to a standard sewing machine and lower the feed dogs. Lowering feed dogs allows you to move the fabric in any direction, giving your hand the control and not the machine. A darning foot will move up and down as you sew, allowing minimal pressure on the fabric so it is easily controlled by hand. I use both straight and zig-zag stitches to create the embellishment.

Where do your symbolic influences come from?

For as long as I can remember, I have been fascinated with mysticism and esoteric art. My work is heavily inspired by symbology and creations of the I.O.O.F. (International Order of Odd Fellows) – I am very drawn to their ideology and long history of craft within their fraternity.

Which of the six CAA banners was most challenging for you to create?

Honestly, I feel they were all equally challenging. I have a bit of OCD when it comes to perfection. I try to meet the highest standards with both my commercial and personal artwork. To me, every challenge in turn is extremely rewarding to my artistic growth.

What do you turn to for inspiration? How do you get in your creative zone?

I live in New Jersey, a short train ride into New York City, so I try and see art exhibits as often as possible. I have an extensive collection of books as well. Luckily, I have a studio outside of my living space, so the simple act of leaving my home and being in a space solely dedicated to creativity usually puts me right in that zone.

Learn more about McAleavey’s work at meghanmcaleavy.com or on Instagram at @mmtextiles.

This banner symbolizes Chaos & Order: Having everything under control gives us peace of mind, and the soothing feeling that all is well in the universe. But, every once in a while, we need to indulge in our most fiery passions.

Agression & Tranquility

This banner symbolizes Aggression & Tranquility: Patience is a virtue, but so is assertiveness. Finding the right balance between the two is the unequivocal pathway to success. Let your opinions be heard, but choose the moment to voice them wisely.

This banner symbolizes Virility & Restraint: The fundamental imperative to go forth and multiply is alive and well. But the overly eager bird never gets the worm.

This banner symbolizes Tradition & Growth: Respecting the past is key to making sense of the present and planning for the future. But repeating the past religiously is an impediment to progress.

This banner symbolizes Tradition & Growth: Respecting the past is key to making sense of the present and planning for the future. But repeating the past religiously is an impediment to progress.

This banner symbolizes Truth & Beauty: Thoreau said, “truth is beauty and beauty, truth.” The mercurial nature of both is the essence of the relationship between them. Reality and artifice are both false and bona fide.

This banner symbolizes Truth & Beauty: Thoreau said, “truth is beauty and beauty, truth.” The mercurial nature of both is the essence of the relationship between them. Reality and artifice are both false and bona fide.

This banner symbolizes Vitality & Toxicity: The push and pull between life, exuberance, awareness, alertness and the desire to become intoxicated, drown out all those sensations, and as an ironic consequence, discover an altogether different brand of vitality.

This banner symbolizes Vitality & Toxicity: The push and pull between life, exuberance, awareness, alertness and the desire to become intoxicated, drown out all those sensations, and as an ironic consequence, discover an altogether different brand of vitality.

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