Saturday, March 19, 2011

Mind = blown, soul = fed. My journey to the center of the Earth.

A while back, I blogged about my first encounter with the visual artist Nick Cave's work, when I saw two of his "Soundsuits" outside the Picasso exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum. Saturday, I had the pleasure and the privilege of seeing Nick Cave's exhibit there, "Meet Me at the Center of the Earth."

I knew it would be amazing, but I left there absolutely transformed. Artificial restrictions that I'd placed on my knitting and crochet designs, and even my painting, were removed. I was uplifted by the sheer joy of the Soundsuits, the incredible colors, textures, the second life of all the repurposed stuff that he uses. Ceramic birds and tin toys, among other objects, adorn some of the suits that are otherwise made up of knitted or crocheted fabric. Some suits are made of what looks like animal hair or fur, others are head-to-toe buttons. I was overjoyed to see so many obviously hand-crocheted or hand-knit elements used. There were countless crochet motifs and even an entire sculpture made of "snakes" created by rolling up crocheted afghans.

A giant bear-like creature made of sewn-together sweaters, brand name labels visible, was one of the first things we saw. My three-year-old determined it (and, well, most of the rest of the pieces) to be "scary," despite its benevolent facial expression. However, she was absolutely delighted later on, when we came upon a stuffed animal Soundsuit that was absolutely gigantic and consisted of stuffed toys of every color and shape, including Beanie Babies and to our daughter's delight, Ernie from Sesame Street and Blue from Blue's Clues.

Both my 3-year-old and my 15-month-old really perked up when we got to the multimedia room, which was really wonderful. There we got to see videos of the Soundsuits in action, inhabited by human beings who danced or appeared unannounced in some unsuspecting corner of Seattle, like a flash mob of sorts, or maybe an alien invasion. On one wall was a video that consisted of nothing but images of different crochet motifs... I personally really liked that one, along with another of the artist inside a black and white snake-like creation that appeared to be eating him. The accompanying music was great.

In one room were three beautiful Soundsuits made of twigs. A sign on the wall displayed a quote from the artist in which he discussed having been inspired to make his first Soundsuit out of twigs in 1992, right after the Rodney King incident had occurred. It's uplifting to know that an incident so ugly could have helped to inspire such beauty.

On our way out, I saw the first two Soundsuits that I'd seen at the Picasso exhibit once more. There they were, the flame-headed creature with a deformed body made of grayish sweaters and one of the tin toy Soundsuits. It was really nice to see them again. Also on our way out, a nice elderly lady commented on the busy-printed, cheerful-colored pants that my 3-year-old was wearing, saying, "She wore her Nick Cave pants!" The pants certainly did fit in. Oddly, she had chosen them herself that morning, not knowing what she was about to see!

I didn't want to leave, but we had to get the kids home for their nap. This exhibit is a wonderful, beautiful, uplifting escape from reality, and I hope to go back at least once more. Most of all, it taught me that we fiber artists aren't just knitting and crocheting, they are not just crafts, we are making art... who knows, we might even be making artists' materials!

This is a photoless post because photography is not allowed inside the exhibit. However, here's a great promotional video that shows some of the wondrous Soundsuits in action!

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