A&E

Fashion statements

Nick Cave's Soundsuits come to Stanford

The stuff we hold on to, those things we collect -- dried flowers from our senior prom, the cassette mix-tape from a friend -- what do they say about our past, and what stories can they tell to others?

Nick Cave might have the answer. He is a collector, a performance artist, a dancer and the creator of Soundsuits -- full body-sized sculptures made from a collection of other people's castoffs.

Cave gathers castoffs from flea markets, antique shops and yard sales: buttons, beads and brass fittings, sequins, toys and old, fraying afghans. Each item he finds holds a story -- the energetic imprint from every previous owner, which he assembles into his Soundsuits. In that way, it can be said that Soundsuits are formed from memories.

The Chicago artist's creations are part sculpture and ornament, armor and instrument and are often worn as costumes and performed in.

The energetic vibration of each single, insignificant article is magnified by how Cave chooses to bind them together. Each found object is transformed through the combination of color, history, function and sound. They force a reaction based on the viewer's personal history. There is something familiar about the experience of seeing them even for the first time. In a gallery filled with people, this experience becomes a joyful and subversive wake of silent, but collective, sharing.

Art enthusiasts will have the opportunity to experience this wearable art in person. A collection of Cave's evocative Soundsuits will be on exhibit at the Anderson Collection at Stanford University through Aug. 14, 2017, on loan from the Anderson family, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and private collectors.

Cave, who now the director of the graduate fashion program at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago, may not have had the words to describe the latent potency of abandoned objects as a child in Missouri. It is possible, however, the idea that things hold an imprint of all their former lives seeped into his personal identity early on as he accepted hand-me-downs passed to him from his six older siblings.

Cave created his first soundsuit in 1992 as a response to the beating of Rodney King in Los Angeles and the subsequent riots. This suit was made from fallen twigs gathered in Chicago's Grant Park. He drilled holes in each twig and then sewed them together. His intention was not to create wearable art, but it was only after he slipped the suit of twigs over his head and heard the sound of dry, rattling sticks did Cave experience its power.

His later suits have since evolved "from a dark place to being more about the materials," said Jason Linetzky, director of the Anderson Collection. "On the surface, they're fun -- but imagine yourself in them."

The thought-provoking and challenging suits are constructed in ways that refuse to reveal gender, age or race. They offer complete anonymity. To imagine yourself in them is to turn the collective sharing of memories into a personal epiphany.

The Anderson exhibit includes eight Soundsuits, three video works and a recently completed documentary about Nick Cave titled "Here." There also is an interactive felt wall where visitors to the gallery can help create a trio of two-dimensional soundsuits.

Public programs supporting the exhibition will continue throughout the year. This fall, there will be pop-up family activities in Studio 2 and a mobile art studio parked on the Anderson Collection grounds.

IF YOU GO

What: Nick Cave "Soundsuits"

Where: The Anderson Collection at Stanford, 314 Lomita Drive, Stanford

When: Sept. 14, 2016-Aug. 14, 2017

Wednesday through Monday: 11a.m. to 5p.m. ; Thursday: 11a.m. to 8 p.m.; Closed Tuesday; Public docent-led tours are offered Wednesdays at 12:30 p.m. and on the weekends at 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m.

Cost: Free

Info: Info: anderson.stanford.edu

Freelance writer Mimm Patterson can be emailed at mimmp@mac.com.

Comments

There are no comments yet. Please share yours below.

Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Choose a category: *

Since this is the first comment on this story a new topic will also be started in Town Square! Please choose a category that best describes this story.

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields

Coupon for Yourself and Your Partner
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 6,679 views

Housing Impact Fees and the Economy
By Steve Levy | 6 comments | 3,027 views

Planning for College Tours
By John Raftrey and Lori McCormick | 0 comments | 1,651 views

Driverless self-driving car testbed issues
By Douglas Moran | 3 comments | 877 views

Luck despite bad luck
By Sally Torbey | 0 comments | 307 views

 

Short story writers wanted!

The 31st Annual Palo Alto Weekly Short Story Contest is now accepting entries for Adult, Young Adult (15-17) and Teen (12-14) categories. Send us your short story (2,500 words or less) and entry form by April 13, 2017. First, Second and Third Place prizes awarded in each category.

Contest Details