“When we spend a lot of time in a place, and if we are paying attention, a kind of intimacy develops,” says Jeanne Simmons. The artist, who’s based in the Pacific Northwest, grounds her practice in this sense of familiarity and ease with her surroundings. “We come to know the plants that grow there and the critters that roam there… We may even begin to feel that we ourselves have become part of that place, and it is this feeling that sustains and inspires me.”
After gathering natural materials like branches, wild vegetables, and bark, Simmons constructs garments that intertwine her own body and those of others with the landscape and obscure the distinction between the two. In one work, a full skirt made of Queen Anne’s Lace trails from the artist’s waist and blends with a meadow, while another piece braids dried vegetation into a model’s blond hair, developing a feet-long braid that appears to emerge from the ground. “Grass Cocoon” is similar, twisting locks into the material and swaddling a figure’s body in a sheath of green. “This is how I celebrate and deepen my connection with the natural world. I suppose I have discovered that the best way for me to become part of the landscape… is to wear it,” she shares. “It is also, at least in part, a lamentation for the catastrophic loss of that connection that we are witnessing in real-time.”
Simmons has several works in progress at the moment, including a kelp shroud and fennel gown, and is collaborating with director and producer Ward Serrill on a film about her practice. Keep up with those projects on her site and Instagram. (via Lustik)
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A new series of paintings by New Hampshire-based artist Shawn Huckins (previously) proposes thinking about how we wear clothing and textiles in a fresh light. Dirty Laundry continues the artist’s interest in re-interpreting 18th- and 19th-Century European portraiture, an artistic tradition steeped in symbolism and subtle commentary about wealth and class. The garments donned by the subjects of painters like John Singleton Copley or Adriaen van der Werff reflected their status and sense of self through apparel and accessories. Jean-Léon Gérôme’s depiction of a Bashi-Bazouk, a soldier of the Ottoman Empire, is a prescient comment on the nature of clothes and uniform, as those enlisted were often unpaid and dressed in a haphazard mix of pieces they acquired while on the march.
Huckins puts a playful, contemporary twist on the notion of expressing one’s identity through fabric by obscuring his subjects’ faces almost entirely, prompting the viewer to consider what it means to be cloaked or exposed. The artist recreated the compositions in the studio by draping a model with a variety of garments, mimicking the direction and temperature of the light in the original works in acrylic paint.
With their faces covered completely, the sitters are identified only through objects such as a string of pearls, a beloved dog, or a handful of fruit. Huckins says in a statement that “anything more that might be known about these people remains hidden beneath piles of cloth and clothing so ubiquitous it could be our own.” Utilizing modern fabrics like buffalo plaid or gingham, the artist considers how we all dress to convey information about ourselves.
Dirty Laundry is also the title of the artist’s upcoming solo exhibition with Duran Mashaal Gallery in Montréal, which opens on June 2. You can find more of his work on his website and Instagram. (via Creative Boom)
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Cats are known to wedge themselves into tiny spots and generally treat people as human jungle gyms, and artist Hiroko Kubota (previously) translates that lack of spatial awareness into her tiny embroideries. Stitched onto collared shirts, the Nara-based artist’s portraits are cleverly placed to depict furry faces peering over the edge of a pocket and sometimes, attempting to climb out from their garment confines. Since she started the designs about a decade ago, Kubota has embroidered hundreds of characters, each with their distinct personalities and mischievous expressions.
This spring, Kubota is participating in an Osaka cat event with photographers and other handcraft artists and is planning a solo exhibition this fall. She’s paused international commissions for now, but you can stay updated on her work on Instagram.
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Earthrise: A Striking New Collection by Iris Van Herpen Recycles Plastic Waste into Sculptural Garments
Iris Van Herpen (previously) continues to blend fashion and science in her latest collection of dizzying garments that explore the fragility of marine ecosystems. Earthrise, which debuted at Paris Haute Couture Week on July 5, is comprised of 19 gowns teeming with the Dutch designer’s signature layers and structural flourishes. Exquisite and elaborately constructed, the garments seamlessly merge aquatic motifs and colors into a dynamic collection focused on preserving the environment in both aesthetic and material.
Five of the designs, including the hand-cut gradient dress shown below, are made entirely of recycled plastics sourced from Parley for the Oceans (previously), which is working to protect the planet’s bodies of water from pollution and further degradation. Other pieces in the collection are the product of collaborations with artists like Rogan Brown (previously), who brought his laser-cut reliefs resembling coral reefs and microbial structures to the lace-like gowns, while Casey Curran (previously) produced kinetic stripes that ripple across one dress in a mesmerizing blue-to-white gradient. Artist James Merry (previously) is responsible for the futuristic metal jewelry, while Eichi Matsunaga created the long, bulbous nails designs.
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“Sequins are synonymous with plastic waste,” says renowned designer Phillip Lim about an endeavor to combat the egregious amount of pollution generated each year by the fashion industry. He’s part of the 2020 cohort for One X One—a Slow Factory Foundation initiative that matches scientists and designers with an eye toward regenerative technologies, equitable production, and circular economy models—in which he collaborated with Charlotte McCurdy, a researcher who’s undertaken a variety of sustainable-fashion projects. Together, they created a luxe A-line dress covered in algae sequins that’s free from petroleum and other synthetic materials.
In their partnership, the duo drew on McCurdy’s process of pulling carbon from the atmospheric reservoir and binding the organic substance together with heat, a method she used previously to create a water-resistant raincoat made from marine micro-algae. The bioplastic then is poured into custom molds and emerges in sheets that the pair cut into long, arced sequins. Because the algae-derived substance wasn’t suitable for the dress form, Lim and McCurdy sourced a mesh base from PYRATEX, a Madrid-based brand specializing in a seaweed-and-bamboo fiber called SeaCell that’s both an antiperspirant and thermoregulating.
Speckled near the neckline with mother of pearl, the resulting dress is covered in the translucent green fringe, a color McCurdy derived organically from minerals. “The majority of our modern dyes and pigments are petrochemical in origin,” she told Dezeen. “But we had a huge, rich vocabulary of color before the Industrial Revolution that was not taking fossil fuel out of the ground, so I looked into traditional approaches to producing oil paints, which involved mineral pigments.”
Lim and McCurdy’s design isn’t for sale commercially but rather serves as a prototype for garment production in the future. For similar initiatives, check out the two other projects generated by the 2020 cohort, which include leather sneakers grown from bacteria and an apprenticeship in sustainable fashion for women from low-income and immigrant communities, on One X One’s site.
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Instead of tossing an old pair of pants or T-shirt, Helga Stentzel puts her tired garments out to pasture. So far, the London-based artist has added Pegasus and Smoothie, a pair of clothesline equine and bovine, to her herd of playful interventions hung in bucolic landscapes. Stenzel’s practice, which she terms “household surrealism,” is derived from her childhood in Siberia, where she spent hours surveying her grandmother’s carpet, birch logs, and random objects for recognizable forms, including “a stack of buckets resembling the tower of Pisa,” she tells Colossal.
Prints of the laundry creatures are available in Stentzel’s shop, and you can follow additions to the drove—the artist currently is creating a few more farm animals while braving the -32 degree weather in Russia—on Instagram, where you’ll also find a variety of quirky food-based characters. (via Laughing Squid)
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Editor's Picks: Art
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.