Over the weekend, I watched a powerful documentary about the social and environmental costs of cheap/disposable fashion. In countries like Bangladesh, India and Vietnam, workers are still paid wages far below living standards, work in unsafe conditions and develop diseases from environmental pollution. In agricultural places where cotton is grown, pesticide use is causing babies to be born with mental physical disability.
I was told about the The True Cost by a friend and thought, I can’t watch this because it is too horrific and I already know abut this and there’s nothing I can do to help. But it stayed on my mind. I finally decided to watch it and though it was incredibly sad, it was also informative and raised my awareness. I learned about people and brands whose corporate structure is not just money but about caring for their human natural resources as well. Brands like Stella McCartney, Patagonia, New Balance, Nanette Lepore, True Religion, Pendleton and many more either produce their goods in the USA or actually make sure their factories adhere to ethical standards. Online retailer Zady.com offers many stylish clothing choices from ethical companies.
In the film, one of the speakers talks about the fact that it is our entire capitalist system that needed a re-structure. Capitalism is set up to have no limits on monetary gain and a large stake in continuously making more without regulation. However, the earth’s resources and people’s capacities are limited. Therefore, something has to give, either profits or human lives and/or the health of our planet. So far, poor people and nature have been the ones that have suffered in order to produce millions of units of that $5 t-shirt or $20 pair of jeans.
But some rich and powerful people are standing up and saying enough. Some are starting or continuing to nurture fair trade fashion brands. And what can we do? Stay away from fast fashion in your spending. Not only do they reek havoc on lives and nature, but they don’t last and only drive you to buy more in the end. Consider more conscious choices. There are a lot of stylish fair trade choices these days! And please consider spreading the word!
Elena Stonaker takes detail to the next level through her three dimensional soft sculpture creations and two dimensional paintings. Intricate beadwork, paint, and embroidery adorns her padded pieces which can be worn or displayed, while her watercolors incorporate myths and communicate stories about transformation. View more of her work here.
A brief history on marbling (or marbleizing). Some of the oldest surviving marbled papers are from Turkey around the 1400’s; though it’s thought that the technique dates back even further to somewhere around the 1100’s. When the crusaders caught sight of this awesome technique they took it back to Western Europe and before you knew it (well by the 1600’s), places like France and the Netherlands had become well known for their marbled paper. As the biggest use for this pricey paper was on the inside covers of fancy books, bookbinders were quite jealous and frequently attempted spying in order to learn marbling techniques. Marblers had to resort to working late in secret locations, often behind locked doors, in order to avoid prying eyes! Fast forward to 2015 and we are still stunned by the beauty of marbling! The technique has stolen our hearts and can be found on anything from dyed eggs to gorgeous dresses. Now we’re lucky enough to have heretofore carefully guarded marbling techniques posted on such lovely blogs as Alice and Lois. Granted, it’s nowhere near Easter, but these marbled beauties are stunning enough to be displayed any time of the year!
Drenched with light.
It would be easy to imagine that Sarah Burton’s nautically themed spring show took inspiration from the maritime art of scrimshaw. The whale bone carvings pictured above were crafted on sea faring vessels from the Victorian period and share the collections imagery as well as it’s joie de vivre.
These colorfully wrapped yarn pieces are called Ojo de Dios (Eye of God in Spanish.) In Mexico in 1965, Jay Mohler saw a Hichol Indian carrying a bundle of these objects in a marketplace. Fascinated by their design and spiritual symbolism (warding off evil spirits,) he bought several and began experimenting with his own designs. Later that year in Seattle, he experienced bliss after stepping into an exhibition of Buddhist artifacts organized by the Dalai Lama of Tibet, and saw the same yarn and wood objects he had seen in Mexico. In Tibetan tradition, these are also contemplative spiritual objects. He was fascinated by the cross-cultural similarities and the beauty of these mandalas, and over the years has developed his own Ojo de Dios, adding dimension, depth and intricacy to create mandalas that indeed make one think of the eye of god. You can get these on his Etsy page.
Trading in her computer for a microscope for the summer months, surface designer, Liana Nigri, shares her recent experience stepping into the lab through the Bio Arts residency at the School for Visual Arts in New York. Having worked in the print industry for the last ten years, Liana cites florals as her favorite subject matter. It’s no surprise as she hails from the lush land of Brazil. In her residency, Liana studies the process of botanical decay, documenting each step along the way. Leaves and flowers undergo an in-depth examination allowing for a fresh perspective on her favorite topic.
1. What inspired this project?
After Life is an ongoing project that uses flowers and plants in decay to talk about the impermanence of life and suggests the idea that time passing can be the best way to appreciate what we have right here, right now.
2. Can you walk us through your process?
The investigation starts from fresh flowers and follows their path until the drying phase. Microscope photography was used in the lab, and then further visual exploration bloomed at the studio through a wide range of media such as collage, watercolor, laser cutting, and the use of a different sort of organic material (e.g. SCOBY*).
3. Did you make any unexpected discoveries along the way?
Absolutely! Spending 5 weeks in the lab made me literally see things that are always there and that the eye may not be able to capture. The microscope allowed me to look deeper and study the patterns, colors, shapes and textures of the plants.
4. Which was your favorite flower or plant to dissect and why?
The lily is definitely my favorite, because its structure can be easily “dismounted” without getting scratched. I absolutely love its long petals and leaves; it’s so elegant and strong at the same time!
5. Your combined floral sculpture is so reminiscent of some of your print designs. Have you translated any of your lab techniques into your print design work?
I believe it’s impossible to separate my art from the design work, but I haven’t directly used any lab techniques for prints yet. Actually my only rule for this project was to escape the computer and find old-fashioned solutions for all visual aspects such as composition, color, and elements.
View more of Liana’s After Life project here.
A project centered around mutated fruits and vegetables doesn’t sound immediately appealing, but artist Uli Westphal’s project Mutato, proves that there’s immense beauty even in the most dynamically shaped produce. The artist highlights that the “complete absence of botanical anomalies in our supermarkets has caused us to regard the consistency of produce presented there as natural.” And though markets may prefer the uniform appearance of vegetation, there’s a certain beauty in all of the naturally occurring shapes and sizes that produce can be found in. The project leaves one wondering what happens to all of these “deformed” beauties once they’re rejected for supermarket sales? Something to be pondered!
Print it first, pleat it second, wear it third!
– bekah hilleson