I heard about this on NPR
a while back and am finally posting about it. The story piqued my interest because 1) it's about vintage/historical textiles
and fabrics and 2) it's about LACMA
, seriously one of the best contemporary art museums in America, and certainly one of my favoritest.
Along comes this artist, Robert Fontenot
, who buys up 50 of the pieces, ranging from Uzbekystani and Honduran woven fabrics to Korean wedding dresses. He proceeds to find new uses for the unwanted items by deconstructing and then re-imagining them into different incarnations
, and documenting the process on his blog, RecyleLACMA
This is just the sort of thing that would normally delight me, tickle my fancy, capture my imagination, what have you. I think the idea has a lot of potential. But I looked through some of the stuff he's made and can't help but feel a sense of... I don't know, disappointment bordering on discomfort. I mean, I love modern art as much as the next guy and can appreciate any statements Fontenot is trying to make.
Many of these pieces, though, just feel like they're missing the mark. Maybe it's because I think of sewing as a craft that must serve a higher purpose, and I have the heart and soul of a true fabric junkie
. I believe
in fabric, in its substance and spirit and dignity and practicality. Most of all, what draws me emotionally to fabrics is their possibility
This might explain how I cannot resist buying a beautiful fabric when I see it, only to have it lie quietly folded in a box under my bed, to be taken out on occasion to be fondled and cooed over. Cutting into a lovely fabric is one of the hardest things for me to do, even if it's destined for a great purpose.
So what upsets me about some of these pieces by Fontenot, I think, is how unromantic and mundane they are. It feels insulting to the spirit of the fabric, which may have been lovingly worked over by some ancient grandmother or artisan, to turn it into a dog bed, or a hackey-sack. I suppose that's one of the points the artist is making, but it still upsets me.
Some of the pieces are more delightful, like the whimsical lion costume pictured up top or the sailboat below, which makes it easier to swallow (I included some of the ones I like below). But overall I wonder if overall it isn't a bit of a waste.
UPDATE: I was asked by the artist to take the photo gallery down. If you're so inclined, feel free to check out the rest of the projects here.