It don’t mean a thing, 1991
Pride of the West Side, 1992
Again and Again and Again, 1993
Too big, too fast, too strong, too good, 1997
All work courtesy of the artist
Invoking nostalgia, Emma McKee, a.k.a. The Stitch Gawd, reimagines the six-time Championship Chicago Bulls Banners using hand sewn, stitch applique, and quilting techniques. As smoke billows from the nose of the Bulls head it encircles gold leather phrases culled from vintage Bulls T-shirts from the era. Too Big, Too Strong, Too Fast, Too Good, 1997 references “..the Derrick Rose era – a time, attitude and a work ethic reflective of the Dynasty 90’s Bulls. Also, a particularly important time for me – as Derrick Rose and the Bench Mob Bulls served as an introduction to the team and the city for me” states McKee. The Bulls head, custom quilted by Evanston Quilt Company’s Amy Parker, is a call back to a jacket made by McKee in 2020 for Bulls Point Guard Zach Lavine. Originally quilted in the interior of Lavine’s jacket, the Bulls head is an important through line for the artist’s work with the organization.
Emma Mckee isn’t your average cross stitcher. Born in Kansas City, she was first introduced to the medium through her mother, a British opera singer who frequently attempted to teach McKee how to stitch during her childhood. Yet she always refused to learn, finding the British craft too antiquated — that is, until she found a way to make cross stitching work for her.
In 2014, McKee stitched her first piece: An adaptation of Will Prince’s artwork for Chance the Rapper’s song “Hey Ma.” She followed that with a piece for street artist JC Rivera, Chicago’s “Bear Champ.” Her portfolio expanded from there, as she firmly planted herself within Chicago’s rap community, as the scene’s preeminent — and only — hip-hop cross stitcher, earning the name Stitch Gawd.
Since 2014, she’s created countless pieces for musicians and artists both in and outside Chicago.
Championship Bulls Banners is sold in a set of six banners. See more work on IG: @theStitchGawd.
Elevate at 21c presents temporary exhibitions of works by artists living and working in the communities surrounding each 21c Museum Hotel. Elevate provides hotel guests and visitors with unique access to the work of notable regional artists, while featuring their work in the context of 21c’s contemporary art space.