textiles

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Art Craft Food

Embroidered Snacks and Mass-Produced Food by Alicja Kozlowska Chew On Consumerist Culture

January 18, 2023

Grace Ebert

A photo of an embroidered Oreo package with cookies

All images © Alicja Kozłowska, shared with permission

In the ongoing series Embroidered OrdinariesAlicja Kozlowska translates the mass production of Pop Art into tightly stitched sculptures. The Polish artist sews packages of Oreos and half-eaten cookies, rusted cans with peeled-back tops, and 12-packs of Coca-Cola at full scale, recreating the recognizable logos and designs of ubiquitous snacks and goods. Each work begins with a felted structure the artist covers in myriad knots and stitches, which produces textured iterations that reflect on consumerism and the lasting impacts of over-consumption.

Find more of the Embroidered Ordinaries sculptures on Kozlowska’s site, and keep an eye on her Instagram for upcoming additions.

 

A photo of an embroidered fish can

A photo of an embroidered coca cola pack

A photo of an embroidered lays bag

A photo of an embroidered banana peel

A photo of an embroidered Campbell's tomato soup can

A photo of an embroidered Lipton can

Four photo of embroidered snacks

A photo of an embroidered Lays bag

A photo of embroidered snacks

 

 

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Art

Embodying Vibrance and Joy, Gio Swaby’s Patterned Portraits Celebrate Blackness and Womanhood

December 28, 2022

Kate Mothes

A silhouette made from colorful, patterned fabric sewn on to a neutral canvas background.

“New Growth Second Chapter 11” (2021), thread and fabric sewn on canvas, 16 x 20 inches. All images © Gio Swaby, shared with permission courtesy of Claire Oliver Gallery

In Bahamian artist Gio Swaby’s colorful sewn portraits, an invisible yet integral thread comes in the form of an invitation to celebrate Blackness and womanhood. Through the language of textiles and pattern, her practice centers on accessibility and facilitating connection with the viewer. “I think about people like me and how I didn’t get into art or museums or anything until I was 19,” she tells Colossal, sharing that the historical exclusion of Blackness in art motivates her to make pieces that reflect individuality and joy in a mirror-like way.

The Toronto-based artist began working with sewing and textiles around ten years ago, and her use of the medium acknowledges the intersection of traditional craft and fine art, viewed through the lens of personal relationships. “My mother was a seamstress,” she says. “I grew up in that world, but I didn’t come back to it as an art medium until around 2013. I associated it with a special love between us, and I wanted to share that with the viewer, too.”

 

A portrait made from colorful, patterned fabric sewn on to a neutral canvas background.

“Seated Figure” (2022), thread and fabric sewn on canvas, 55 x 66 x 1 inches

Sharing in connection and conversation is central to Swaby’s process, which involves sitting down with her subjects prior to beginning each piece. Most of the portraits represent women in her immediate circle of family and friends. “I already have a sense of who they are, but I learn more about them, and they learn more about me,” she says. The conversations lead to the selection of fabrics, which the artist chooses based on the individuals’ stories and personalities, with an emphasis on exuberant hues and bold designs. In self-portraits, she considers family histories and memories. She says, “I picked out a hummingbird print for my dad because I heard a story that when he was a kid, he was the only one in the neighborhood who could run fast enough to catch a hummingbird.”

In her larger portraits, Swaby incorporates sewing directly onto canvas as a drawing tool, outlining the contours of faces, hands, and hair. Loose threads dangle from the surfaces, suggesting the reverse—typically unseen—side of embroidery and the individuals’ sense of self being perpetually in progress. The titles of her concurrent, ongoing series imply dualities and connections. In New Growth, vibrant silhouettes celebrate Black hair while also alluding to a person who is thriving; Love Letter references a sentiment passed from one person to another—or perhaps even to oneself; and Another Side To Me recognizes the innumerable, intersecting facets of every identity.

Recently exhibited at the Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg, Florida, Swaby’s solo exhibition Fresh Up travels to the Art Institute of Chicago and will open on April 8. Find more of her work at Claire Oliver Gallery, on her website, and follow updates on Instagram.

 

A silhouette made from colorful, patterned fabric sewn on to a neutral canvas background.

“New Growth Second Chapter 8” (2021), thread and fabric sewn on canvas, 16 x 20 inches

A portrait made from colorful, patterned fabric sewn on to a neutral canvas background.

“Another Side To Me Second Chapter 3” (2021), cotton fabric and thread sewn on muslin, 28 x 36 inches

Two silhouettes made from colorful, patterned fabric sewn on to a neutral canvas background.

Left: “New Growth Second Chapter 10” (2021), thread and fabric sewn on canvas, 16 x 20 inches. Right: “New Growth Second Chapter 9” (2021), thread and fabric sewn on canvas, 16 x 20 inches

A silhouette made from colorful, patterned fabric sewn on to a neutral canvas background.

“New Growth Second Chapter 7” (2021), thread and fabric sewn on canvas, 16 x 20 inches

Two portraits made from colorful, patterned fabric sewn on to a neutral patterned background.

Left: “Love Letter 10” (2021), thread and fabric sewn on canvas, 38 x 84 inches. Right: “Love Letter 5” (2021), thread and fabric sewn on canvas, 38 x 84 inches

A portrait made from colorful, patterned fabric sewn on to a neutral canvas background.

“Seeing You Through Her and Me: Carissa” (2022), cotton fabric and thread sewn onto canvas, 62 x 78 x 2 inches

A portrait made from colorful, patterned fabric sewn on to a neutral canvas background.

“Another Side To Me Second Chapter 5” (2021), cotton fabric and thread sewn on muslin, 28 x 36 inches

 

 

 



Craft

A Centuries-Old Decorative Tradition Inspires Michelle Robinson’s Vibrant Weavings

December 27, 2022

Kate Mothes

A photograph of a brightly colored woven wall hanging laid out on a surface.

All images © Michelle Robinson, shared with permission

“Colour is my first passion,” says Sydney-based artist Michelle Robinson, who weaves textured fibers in vibrant hues into lively wall-hangings and accessories. The artist draws on more than twenty years of experience in the soft furnishings and upholstery industry, which instilled a deep appreciation for textiles. She began working with the medium as a way to further explore her love for decor and shares that the process “allows me to continuously play with all the colour combinations that wizz through my brain—and hopefully pass on some of the energy to others that colour can evoke.”

After weaving for four years, Robinson signed up for a masterclass in passementerie, the 16th and 17th century European decorative artderived from passement, an archaic French word for “lace”—that centers on ornate trimmings like edging and tassels for clothing and furniture. Led by U.K.-based artist Elizabeth Ashdown, the class was an opportunity to learn traditional methods from a practitioner who is committed to keeping the craft alive. Robinson shares that she “was immediately besotted with the possibilities for this historic and beautiful technique and was reminded of all the beautiful braids I worked with in my decorating days.” Her pieces reference the ornamental plaits and trims of furniture and garments.

Robinson creates wall hangings and accessories like bookmarks on frame looms, employing traditional techniques to produce geometric works that have a contemporary feel. Recently, she has been exploring how to scale up the medium, examining how the different threads behave within the structure and retain a sense of nostalgia and playfulness. She explains:

I find myself constantly experimenting and learning new techniques, using primarily all-natural fibres. I also love adding repurposed items like knitting needles and re-spun fibres and finishing weavings with hand sewn details. It’s the details that draw you into an artwork that appeal to me.

Robinson often makes pieces available for sale on Etsy, and you can find more of her work on Instagram.

 

A photograph of a brightly colored woven wall hanging.

A photograph of brightly colored woven wall hangings laid out on a surface.

A photograph of a brightly colored woven wall hanging laid out on a surface.

A photograph of brightly colored woven wall hangings laid out on a surface.

A photograph of brightly colored woven wall hangings laid out on a surface next to balls of fiber.  A photograph of a detail of a brightly colored woven wall hanging laid out on a surface.

A photograph of a corner of a brightly colored woven wall hanging laid out on a surface.

 

 



Design

Dramatic Flares and Organic Swells Burst from Robert Wun’s Avian-Inspired Garments

December 13, 2022

Grace Ebert

A photo of a model wearing a sculptural bird-like garment

All images © Robert Wun, shared with permission

The Spring Summer 2023 collection from Robert Wun harmonizes the natural and technologically futuristic. Featuring billowing pleats and bursts of ruffles, the operatic garments reference birding or the act of watching avian creatures in their habitats, an outdoor activity that today is sometimes supplanted by digital viewing opportunities.  The collection evokes the graceful, voluptuous silhouettes of swans, cranes, and crows through full skirts erupting like wings mid-flight or pant legs that fall like feathers at rest. 3D-printed titanium jewelry augments the bird-like aesthetic, with single feathers structuring sculptural eyepieces.

SS23 follows another avian-inspired collection, AW21, which honors Wun’s grandmother who died a few years ago. He shares about the pieces in an interview:

It was about playing with material that looked like metal to create the illusion of wearing armour, but it’s actually made out of fabric. The swallow bird detail is because it’s my grandmother’s favourite bird from Hainan Island, China, where she’s from. Through the armour, there’s a softness of a pleat that cuts into a swallowtail shape, so there’s always that mixture between strength and something as delicate and light as a bird’s tail.

Born in Hong Kong, Wun is now based in London, and you can find more of his designs on the brand’s site.

 

A photo of a model wearing a sculptural bird-like garment

Two photos of models wearing a sculptural bird-like garments

A photo of a model wearing a sculptural bird-like garment

A photo of a model wearing a sculptural bird-like garment

Two photos of models wearing a sculptural bird-like garments

A photo of a model wearing a sculptural bird-like garment

A photo of a model wearing a sculptural bird-like garment

Two photos of models wearing a sculptural bird-like garments

A photo of a model wearing a sculptural bird-like garment

 

 



Animation History

In ‘Home,’ Animator Anita Bruvere Weaves a Poetic Story of Immigration through Stop-Motion Scenes

December 6, 2022

Grace Ebert

19 Princelet Street in London’s East End boasts a richly diverse history that’s emblematic of the neighborhood. The modest brick building once housed Huguenot silk merchants, Irish weavers, and Jewish tailors who fled persecution and struggles within their home countries. Today, the Museum of Immigration and Diversity inhabits the space, securing its legacy as a welcoming, communal environment for people in need.

A profound, meditative short film by Anita Bruvere reflects on this history through intimately crafted stop-motion scenes. Aptly titled “Home,” the animation peers in on the families who occupied the Princelet Street rooms, portraying the two-dimensional figures on acetate. Weaving and sewing practices occupy much of their time and connect each group as the textiles seamlessly flow from one to the next, which Bruvere describes in an interview:

I was interested in how people of different times and generations, coming from different cultures and backgrounds, are connected through the places they occupy and the experiences they share. I wanted the film to be quite poetic, telling the story from the perspective of the house using fabric: the common trade shared by the area’s many immigrant communities.

An immigrant herself, Bruvere conveys a heartbreaking relevancy to such a historic narrative. “It was startling to discover that the public discourse around the issue of immigration hasn’t really changed that much over the last 300 years,” she says.

Watch the film above, and find more of Bruvere’s projects on Vimeo.

 

A still of a building in a suitcase

An animated image of a figure sewing a dress

A still of a figure being measured for tailoring

 

 



Art Design

Thousands of Used Tea Bags Assemble in Ruby Silvious’s Delicate Full-Size Garments

December 2, 2022

Kate Mothes

A child's dress made from tea bags.

All images © Ruby Silvious, shared with permission

When we steep a cup of tea, we typically toss out the bag once it has served up its brew, but for Ruby Silvious, this humble sachet provides the basis for a distinctive artistic practice. Known for her miniature paintings that use tea bags as canvases, she has expanded her use of the material by employing it as a fabric for larger-scale works that are inspired by her family history and an interest in fashion. “It gives me a chance to do large scale work, the antithesis to my miniature paintings,” she tells Colossal. “It’s only natural that my art has always been inspired by fashion. My maternal grandmother was a brilliant seamstress. I was only 20 years old when I migrated to the U.S. from the Philippines, and my very first job was at Bergdorff Goodman in New York City.”

Silvious began making garments in 2015, spurred by an ongoing fascination with the various methods of printing, staining, and assembling the deconstructed segments together. “I have accumulated bins of used tea bags,” she says, “not just from my own consumption but also from friends and family who have generously contributed to my growing collection.” She has made more than ten full-size kimonos, each requiring up to 800 used bags to complete. Pieces in her most recent series, Dressed to a Tea, average approximately 75 to 125 sachets, each one emptied out, flattened, and ironed before being glued together into shirts, slips, or child-size dresses. “Some tea bag pieces have monoprints on them, and the simpler designs are assembled with plain or slightly stained, used tea bags, giving them a more delicate and fragile look,” she explains.

A number of pieces from Dressed to a Tea will be on view in a weeklong exhibition at Ceres Gallery in New York from December 5 to 10. Her work will also be featured in a solo exhibit at the Ostfriedsisches Teemuseum in Norden, Germany, from March 4 to April 29, 2023. You can find more of Silvious’s work on her website and Instagram.

 

A shirt made out of tea bags.

A kimono made from tea bags.

Slips made out of tea bags.

Two images of a kimono made from tea bags, shown front and back. A child's dress made out of tea bags.

Two dresses made out of tea bags.

A kimono made from tea bags.

 

 

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