All Articles
All Articles

Social Fabric

Seven artists turn fabric into a tactile discussion of culture, commerce and war

by Julie Wolfson
on 05 February 2013

Currently showing at Craft and Folk Art Museum (CAFAM) of Los Angeles, "Social Fabric" presents the work of seven artists across installations, performances, workshops and collaborative projects made primarily from cloth. Curated by Anuradha Vikram of the Worth Ryder Gallery in Berkeley, the exhibit showcases the work of Stephanie Syjuco, Drew Cameron, Allison Smith, Bean Gilsdorf, Rachel Bernstein, Donna Huanca and Carole Frances Lung (AKA Frau Fiber), who have all created conceptual art projects with the purpose of examining the issues surrounding mass production and consumption.

Stephanie Syjuco

Stephanie Syjuco spearheaded her global Counterfeit Crochet Project, an array of crafty versions of designer handbags, with the intention of "debasing and defiling designer items one step at a time." Syjuco displays bags—including a perky Murakami Louis Vuitton—that have been painstakingly crocheted by participants around the world. In the middle of the gallery, a table filled with skeins of yarn invites museum visitors to take a stab at their own handbag or at least attempt a few rows of crochet stitches.

Throughout the course of the exhibition, Syjuco will be offering workshops to learn techniques for crocheting handbags. On opening night Carol Zou from Yarnbombing Los Angeles was on hand to help teach the craft of crochet, and is participating in Granny Squared, an ongoing project that will eventually cover CAFAM in granny squares made around the world.

Drew Cameron

In the Combat Paper Project, military textiles are manipulated to explore the emotional toll of war and therapeutic potential of art. Drew Cameron recycled military uniforms donated by veterans into paper, which then became the writing surface for text by service members meant to help them deal with feelings of trauma. Several emotional texts from the workshops are displayed above a vintage typewriter.

Allison Smith

Allison Smith is drawn to communities that reenact military history, and the artist holds workshops to teach veterans how to sew. Her body of work at CAFAM is an eerie series of Trench Art pieces, a form of expression that is made by both civilians and military as a response to dealing with conflict. Her handmade gas masks with haunting eye holes and ghostly reverence are formed from fabric as well as leather, metal, ribbon, plastic, hardware and staples.

Bean Gilsdorf

Bean Gilsdorf makes geometric flags by printing digital images of significant historical events on fabric. Gilsdorf's colorful Flags for Allegiance and Flags for the New Frontier show images of American innovation and multiculturalism. For a flag depicting the Kennedy family, Gilsdorf used a piece of fabric meant to conjure red dresses worn by Rose and Jacqueline Kennedy.

Rachel Bernstein

Rachel Bernstein created fabric spores meant to decay and decompose when installed in natural and urban settings. Hanging on the wall, photographs of spores implanted in rock crevices, wood forms and the tile wall of a subway station show the ephemeral nature of the natural material and question the reverence of permanent public art.

Donna Huanca

Displayed behind glass, Donna Huanca's objects made from discarded clothing, shoes and ephemera reveal an anthropological exploration of her Latin American roots. Huanca is also showing the photographic series "Unearthling," in which the artist covers her entire body in fabric and photographs herself in various landscapes.

Frau Fiber

Performance artist Carole Frances Lung's installation features her Bauhaus-inspired Knock Off Enterprises as well as several of her performance uniforms displayed on dress forms. She shares her handmade journal scrapbooks chronicling Frau Fiber's projects including the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, bicycle-powered sewing machine and Haiti projects. According to Lung, Frau Fiber communicates her identity through the uniforms that she makes herself: "Frau is a former East German garment worker turned activist after her job was outsourced to China," says Lung. Frau's uniforms that are part of Social Fabric include the Useful Work vs. Useless Toil uniform that is inspired by the William Morris essay of the same name. Frau hacked apart a men's suit and reassembled it as a boxy house-dress with a corresponding cap.

Frau created her Triangle Shirtwaist Fire commemoration uniform for a performance at Den Contemporary in Los Angeles. For that event she produced a replica of a triangle shirt blouse for each of the stitchers killed in that fire. On the anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, Frau will lead a workshop instructing how to make a shirtwaist blouse. Then on 1 May 2013, Frau will bring her bicycle-powered sewing machine to the museum for a collaborative mending project. People will be able to bring their objects to be mended on the custom bicycle that needs volunteer peddlers to run the sewing machine. "I am excited to see the possibilities for having a dialogue about fiber art in Los Angeles because there are a lot of artists working in this way," says Lung. "I am excited that there is an art institution that is supporting this process by bringing it to an audience of people here in Los Angeles."

Social Fabric will be on view at CAFAM at 5814 Wilshire Boulevard in LA through 5 May 2013.

Installation photographs by Anne Carmack; Frau Fiber uniform images by Francesca Balaguer-Mercado and Carole Frances Lung; All other images courtesy of CAFAM

The CH25 is a showcase of creators and innovators from a broad range of disciplines who are currently working to drive the world forward.

Kegan Schouwenburg

Revolutionizing orthotics through 3D-printed insoles

Read More
What orthotics do is they effectively change the geometry of what your alignment is like

LaToya Ruby Frazier

Documenting the slow, troubling change in Braddock, Pennsylvania

Read More
I am not a journalist, I am a conceptual documentary artist using my visual expression for building narratives that are unseen and unheard

Leopoldine Huyghues Despointes

The young filmmaker and non-profit founder who just wants people to follow their dreams

Read More
I feel confident and ready to accomplish so much more, the movement is on

Corinne Joachim Sanon

The chocolatier bringing social change to Haiti and bean-to-bar chocolate to the world

Read More
Seeing the poverty surrounding me and the lack of jobs and opportunity bothered me

Cynthia Breazeal

How an emotional, empathetic robot named Jibo stands to revolutionize communication

Read More
The thing that's so provocative about social robots is that it's fundamentally a community technology

Matt Kenyon

Fusing art and technology to disrupt concepts of corporate America

Read More
I want the work to live in the world and circulate, so it can generate more dialogue

Joshua Harker

Pushing the boundaries of sculpture with intricate 3D printing

Read More
My intent was to explore and depict the architecture of the imagination, to interpret and share forms evident in the mind’s eye

Marcus Weller

Using technology to turn motorcycle helmet design on its head

Read More
I was taken aback both by the number of people that doubted it, and by the equally large number of people that got behind it

Sarah Kunst

The entrepreneur single-handedly changing the landscape for women in tech

Read More
People who live on a planet that is half women but can never seem to find any when they need one, I have solved your problem

Alex Kalman

The tiny museum in Manhattan that’s redefining museums

Read More
The mission is to put this small simple and powerful tool into the hands of as many people as possible

Eelke Plasmeijer

The locally driven restaurant that’s upending Balinese food culture

Read More
We really try to keep things simple and let the produce do the talking

Lulu Mickelson

A civic leader bringing change to NYC through design

Read More
Human-centered design is one of the many tools that we can use to better engage the public

Tarren Wolfe

The next-generation appliance making kitchens greener—literally

Read More
Our goal is to provide food for everyone in the world, and the best place to start is in our very own community

Douglas Riboud + Justin Guilbert

How a mission to create great coconut water led to a whole new way of doing business

Read More
We’ve made a conscious decision to be as transparent and honest as we can, and let people decide for themselves

Sabine Seymour

A future where smart clothes are as ubiquitous as zippers

Read More
In the future you will not buy a piece of 'functional' clothing without SoftSpot

Meredith Perry

How searching the Internet helped a 22-year-old invent wireless electricity

Read More
It’s not about where the information is, it’s about how you use the tools

Kathleen Supové

The NYC performance artist who’s radically reinventing the piano recital

Read More
I like pieces that are virtuosic, that show off the piano and what it can do, and are awe-inspiring

Pauline van Dongen

The Dutch designer blazing the wearable technology path

Read More
I’m fascinated by concepts of change, movement, energy and perception; since they are closely related to the way we experience the world

Tal Danino

The bioengineer who’s programming DNA to fight cancer

Read More
[Manipulating genes] is very new, people are just learning how to program these organisms

Vanessa Newman

Redesigning pregnancy for the post-gender generation with Butchbaby & Co.

Read More
I want my customers to feel comfortable and unchanged, in that becoming pregnant didn't take away from or compromise their identity

Dan Barasch + James Ramsey

A quest to make the future brighter—underground

Read More
We both share a passion for groundbreaking technology and a shared love of New York

George Arriola and Monohm

An heirloom electronic for the post-smartphone era

Read More
We agonized during the design process as all hyper-obsessed craftspeople should

Jonathan Sparks

Reinventing electronic music by inventing multi-disciplinary instruments

Read More
Recorded music is becoming so cheap, so the value of music is now in live performance

Melissa Kushner

Addressing the needs of orphans and vulnerable children in Malawi through microenterprise

Read More
Poverty is complicated, there is an increasing temptation and pressure in the development space to oversimplify things

Roxie Darling

From un-shampoo to transgender identity, the NYC colorist boldly defining the next chapter of hair

Read More
Hair color is as much a science as it is a craft
Loading More...