Weedrobes, artist statement
My focus as an artist is to create environmental art and ephemeral installations based on the principles of a socially engaged art practice. The Weedrobes series, which began in 2005 as an experiment in making garments from leaves and flowers has now evolved into a series that also examines consumerism, the fashion industry and the constructed landscape.
The intention of the Weedrobes series is to engage the public on several levels: through street interventions, garden settings and gallery exhibitions. Each new piece begins as a wearable sculpture constructed from local and renewable plant materials. It is then photographed with a model in a landscaped urban setting emphasizing the impact of humans on the natural environment. The third stage consists of a public intervention in a shopping area where the garment wearer engages with passersby regarding issues of disposable consumer goods. The garment/sculpture is later installed in a garden or park setting and left to decompose over time.
My current art practice is rooted in the environmental art movement. It is based on the theories of seminal artists such as Joseph Beuys’ notion of “infiltration”, which integrates art and social change, as well as Robert Smithson’s “nonsite” theory, which challenged the parameters of the conventional gallery setting. The Weedrobes Project can be positioned as a hybrid of Environmental Art within a Socially Engaged Practice because of its relation to ecology, culture and eco-feminism. In addition, taking these sculptures to the streets is a form of reclaiming of the body as a public site. In this respect, Weedrobes draws on a tradition of art which focuses on the garment as an extension of the body in works such as Jana Sterbak’s Flesh Dress and Beverly Semmes’ sculptural garments.
My personal interest in the fashion industry stems from growing up in my mother’s ladies-clothing store where I learned how to discern quality manufacturing and the importance of shopping local. In my teens, I witnessed the poor working conditions in garment factories and the effects of chemicals used in treating fabrics, while working in a non-union sweatshop. Years later, as a costume designer, I was fascinated by the notion of psychological transference into clothing and this informed much of my early artworks.
The Weedrobes philosophy is based on being a free thinker, creating one’s own sense of style while also raising awareness about the impact of industry on our eco-system. Our most effective tool for change is for consumers to demand more equitable products. It may be impractical to wear clothing made with leaves but our future depends on the creation of garments made from sustainable resources.