The Lessening: the form follows function garments

I have dedicated the last year in my 40′s to cleaning house, or to “the lessening”.  I am embarking on a year of only wearing a select amount of clothes (50 garments) from my closet.  My hope is that I realize along the way that this is all I really need and more importantly want.

To elevate this project from a normal purge into a more meaningful and creative exercise worthy of a title, the pieces chosen reflect many aspects present in my past artwork; form following function, wabi-sabi, locally gathered/ scavenged, neutral palette, natural forms & materials.

The form of these garments sprung from a particular function and place in history. A garment’s rich back story adds meaning to your wardrobe and tethers you to the history and culture of dressing.

Some historical pieces designed for a specific function are the Breton Stripe sailor tee, which was originally designed to make it easier to find sailors who fell overboard. The Crackerjack sailor pants have wide legs enabling a sailor to easily roll up the pant for swabbing the deck and for easy removal if they fell overboard, which with the original 5 button (as opposed to the current 13) front panel seems a little more believable. The Aran Cardigan is made from lanolin rich local wools to wick water from the sweaters surface. It is debated as to whether the actual stylized stitches denoted particular regions, but they do in fact have particular meanings, such as a basket weave being good luck for a large catch, rope shapes denoting the tools of the trade, and crosses to invoke the divine protection.

New pieces with specific functions are the Yojhi Yamamoto tank, which has a zipper in the bottom hem for use as a lightweight tote as well as a tank when unzipped. The 6397 Sweater can be worn two ways; arms through sleeves or put arms through holes at armpit if one gets overheated. The cozy NAU down coat easily layers over other garments due to it’s shape and size and construction. These design details add multi-usability to the garment as well as a connection to the designer’s creative process, which makes for a richer experience wearing them.

The Taking and The Tending

This is work which led me to “the lessening”. In 2007, I began making crochet garments, installations and sculptures out of wool yarn and deconstructed thrift store T-shirts. These involved wrapped trees, branches and sometimes me. They were either in a remote country location or interior urban spaces. They are all a meditation on one of the causes of our failing environment, the over-consumption of resources, “The Taking”, and the potential we have as humans if we so choose to craft a solution, “The Tending”. They are all a sort of love song to our human desire to consume and create.

“What the Heart Would Have Known”
This show was a meditation on the hunter (consumer of nature) with his “trophies” (consumed nature). The act of gleaning “trophies” and resources from the natural world and the effects of that gleaning was the motivation for this show. The shapes and forms from the show came from the actual and the outline of a found rhododendron root that had horn and bone-like qualities.

the REDCROSS project was a conceptual piece involving a red wool crocheted redcross shaped garment and a series of photographs in the San Juan Islands. This was a gesture on my part to become one of “the tending”. Images were taken placing myself in recovering woods that had been devastated by severe logging for steam ship fuel.

wound was a series of crochet installations made in 2009. The yarn was made by deconstructing Men’s XXL red T-shirts gleaned from thrift stores. The installations were temporary and the title is meant to be read two ways; a “wound” (noun), the effects of lack of care, and “wound” (verb) to bind with care. A photography book by the same name was made to capture the woodland installations. See book for more information.

the STAND was an installation of deconstructed t-shirt yarn on a grouping of Big Leaf Maples. The tending of nature and the creating of visual “art stop signs” was the impetus of this work. It is about tending place and about recognizing the special in the ordinary.