Sketch for Displaced

All winter long, while I sat and worked on this new piece, I listened to news stories on the radio about the people who are fleeing their home countries amid war and conflict. Even though Displaced is inspired by current world events, it could very well represent the universal and timeless plight of refugees throughout history.

I often think in terms of creating miniature shallow stage sets and with this one, I envisioned a highly dramatic scene. It was important to me that the piece evoked a strong emotional reaction, much like an opera.

The heavily burdened figures are a chorus of characters making their way through a black and ominous landscape. To help create tension in the design, I thought of antonyms, such as dark/light, general/personal, despair/hope, trapped/escape, harsh/tender, sharp/soft and horror/beauty.

My aim is to breathe life and emotion into embroidery, an art form that is often perceived as purely decorative. What I make today and how I do it, is a culmination of a life-long search to find ways of translating what I feel and imagine into something real to share.

Displaced, 24

Displaced, 24″ H x 22″ W, 2016

UPDATE: 18″ x 24″ Posters of DISPLACED are now in my Etsy Shop here.


Poster – Displaced

Here are some details of the piece, along with a glimpse behind the scenes in my studio.







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56 thoughts on “Displaced

  1. A very moving piece to say the least. I have noticed how a lot of refugees walk with their heads down as in your piece. Very sad. I have had many health and job issues and my kids and I have done without a lot of what most think of as necessities, but we have never had to flee our country and everything we know and love or have such violence and killing all around us as so many have. I am thankful every day.

    Really wonderful work, Salley.

  2. Your talent and creativity is superb. I will try to visit the exhibition. ( I live in Maine.)
    Anita A.

  3. I love everything you do but this piece is stunning. It is beautiful. It has social conscious. It is persuasive, and shows the humanity of the refugee “problem”. “Displaced” is a masterpiece. Congratulations.

  4. I think there is enormous strength in the unfussiness….bare bones so suits the emotion in this subject…it leaves my interest peaked and itchy to imagine the content…just like my favorite kinds of story!

  5. Salley, your work has drawn out such emotion within me. My heart breaks with the images in the media. I particularly appreciate the way these desperate fragile human beings are walking along the edge of the cliff. It felt like it was the knife edge of their life. Well done and thank you. Susie from Adelaide.

  6. Wow, Salley, this is amazing. Your skill as a craftwoman is astounding, as always, but I appreciate especially the artistic elements in this piece. The composition is dramatic and although beautiful, it is ominous. The angles of the sharp leaves and the clawlike, pointy, tree branches, the steep hills and the narrow path that the terrified figures must edge along all instill in me a fear of falling. Yet, even though they are downcast, they are determined. I’d say you were indeed successful in provoking an emotional response. Thank you for sharing. I hope to see your show in the fall.

  7. Hello Sally, this is disturbing and filled with emotion. How sad that we live in a world where families must leave HOME and then to find doors closed to them. There is so much heart in your work, it can be felt…. We can only pray we never get displaced…

  8. Beautiful. It makes me think of another dichotomy:compassion/fear. They are not antonyms but in today’s world they seem to work that way. Thank you for making this piece.

  9. Love this piece it has so much feeling in it. It should do well in your next show. Keep going on this.

  10. This is so evocative of the situation in Syria, Turkey and all through Europe. The long, uphill trudge to a new life. I hope that this piece that you have created will become widely known. Your talent is unique and you are so experienced now in creating these miniature people.

    Thank you for this piece.

    Ann B. >

  11. This brought tears to my eyes. The figures are so down-trodden, I “love” how the figures on the upper level have their backs to us and the shadows (real or drawn, painted, or embroidered) of the branches. What is further interesting and causing tension is the doll within the context of serious subject. I’ve loved your work for years, Salley.

  12. Waouhhh ! J’admire votre travail depuis longtemps. Cette pièce est magnifique et je ne peux m’empêcher de vous féliciter. Vous êtes une grande artiste ! Merci pour cette beauté qui prouve que l’on peux faire de grandes choses avec des petits bouts de riens.

  13. I too listen to Public Radio and other news mediums daily and think about the stories I hear of strife, sadness and sometimes hope. Thanks for this political piece.

  14. Oh Salley, this is beyond amazing. It brought up so much emotion for me , took my breath away and brought tears to my eyes.
    So powerful and beautiful!

  15. Beautiful expression of strength, courage, sadness and fear. Seeing this piece of artwork helps us all to become more empathetic and compassionate. Thank you for creating and sharing it.

  16. Everything already said, and I love the winding movement as if in a labyrinth, the feeling of constant motion as a necessity with no place to rest, unutterable fatigue. There is also deep sorrow and yet a glimmer of hope as they continue to move forward. Thank you for sharing this wonderful piece.

  17. This is absolutely stunning, Salley. As the grandchild of Armenian refugees displaced by genocide this evokes so many emotions. Thank you!

  18. Salley, I have been inspired by your techniques and style to find my own storytelling style. I have admired your figurines and sets, but this is the first creation that moves me to speak up. I understand it was inspired by the current Syrian refugee plaint, but it speaks to me of my Russian grandparents’ and parents’ fate after WWI, the Russian Civil War and WWII. This piece truly expresses the plight of the modern expatriates, refugees, and exiles.

  19. This is just so well done. I love working on small things and just love seeing the progress you make. Yes this could be the refugees of all the years down in history. A work of art for sure.

  20. I feel like such a stalker going to your fb page from the miniature group the clicking on the link to your studio blog. LOL. WOW what a talent you have. I can’t say how much I just love your work.

  21. I have only just discovered your work and am so impressed, not only by the skill involved in actually working the pieces but also in the story they tell and the way they reach out of the canvas to speak to the observer. Thank you so much for sharing them online.

  22. Thank you for the charm, the seriousness and the beautiful craftswomanship of your wee folk.
    My twin sister gave me your My Bed book for our 59th birthday last year. It is a treasure. We would love to come to one of your open studios if you have one scheduled?
    Happy Gorgeous Monday,
    Providence RI
    P.S. Do you know David Bird? https://www.davidmbird.com/
    It seems like you are kin. ♥️

    • Thank you for your kind words and interest in my work, Frances. I don’t know David Bird, but I have seen his whimsical work.
      There aren’t any open studio events planned, but you can see my artwork in southern Maine this summer. The retrospective exhibition, “What a Relief” opens tomorrow at the Brick Store Museum in Kennebunk and will be there thru Sept. 11th. I hope that you can make the trip to see the show!
      WHAT A RELIEF: The Art of Salley Mavor
      June 7 – Sept. 11, 2022
      Meet the Artist on June 25, 1 – 3 PM
      Brick Store Museum, Kennebunk, ME
      This is the first major retrospective exhibition of my artwork, spanning over 40 years, from early on to the present day. Rarely seen works on loan from private collections fill multiple galleries on the museum’s entire first floor. Over 150 framed pieces and sculptural objects are on display, including the series of original illustrations from my most recent picture book, MY BED.

  23. Your art is so beautiful. Full of detail, light motion, and drama. I also make art quilts, but yours are one of the most impressive I have seen.thank you for sharing!

  24. Happy New Year Salley,
    I am so thrilled that your art is coming to my part of the world. I will be visiting your display at the Quilt Museum in La Connor, WA in February. And maybe again a couple times.
    I’m wondering if you will be there personally and what dates that would be! I most definitely want to meet you.
    Thank you for sharing your work! You have been such an inspiration to me!
    Thank you!

    • I’m thrilled that Bedtime Stitches will be in the PNW and that you’ll be going to see it, Diane! It would be wonderful to meet, but I will not be coming west for the show, just my art. I hope that you enjoy seeing my work in person and tell your friends!

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