Self-reflection: transparency with tape and thread

This post is a kiosk of self-reflection. We are in week 5 of our residency and I feel as if I am just getting started. My studio time has been minimal, with my thought process blown wide open. I maintain a garden of activity and it is hard to identify what is rose, thorn, and bud. Sometimes things just die and I have learned to accept this.  I have acquired some resuscitative skills, and have learned to read complex and contradictory growth patterns. I identify positive growth spurts (actions) in this residency as a return to writing and analysis, a return to reading and sharing of ideas through structured conversation, a respect for, and rest within, resistance and its relationship to impulse. I identify negatives as positives in my lapses into states of anxiety (relived trauma) when under pressure, especially when it comes to writing. This does not serve me and I long to be liberated. My physical breathing exercises, yoga, and swimming serve me on this end. Can we get a swimming pool on campus? My conversations with others in the program helps me to channel myself out of the tunnel. Where do I submerge? Where do I emerge? What are the buds? This is easier to identify. I want to make marks more directly and subtlely. I want to draw and paint. I want to make folds representational and physical. I want to create intersections and space  I want to write to a place where there is no distinction between my thought process and my actions. I want to make curtains.

recon[figures] in process

I'm playing in the studio with various armatures used to support my dressmaking process,

working additively against the walls to create a conversation with my tools and the architecture that surrounds me. 

Wood, aluminum, leather, thread and cloth are my primary materials.


My home studio has a long bank of west facing windows with beautiful natural light, but not much wall space. I am taking advantage of the architecture in my Sharp 221 studio while in residency to create multiple intersections against the four walls, questioning the possibility of unhinging the inherent functions of the things I work with every day. 

This work is quick moving and the possibilities seem endless. I am not sure where it is going, but enjoy playing with these relationships. I'm interested in Helen Marten's practice, and encouraged to look at the work of Rosy Keyser and Cady Noland. 

Material Becomes the Thing: Works in Cloth

Solo Exhibition                                           
Aron Packer Projects at Space 900/ 1042 Wesley Ave / Evanston / November 11-13, 2016

Image- Toile III, thread, cloth and leather. 2016 24" x 30"  Photo: Bill Burlingham

My practice is an ongoing discourse between art and design. I acknowledge the unstable distinctions between the two disciplines, and my investigations unfold in this unstable territory, continually questioning how the body is figured through fashion, place, and labor.

Dressmakers are often confined to small spaces, small motor skills, mechanical cycles and repetitive processes. Handiwork is concealed in the inner linings of a garment. I don’t always want to stay inside of a dress. How can I use my skill set to address other spaces that the body occupies? How can I build coherent relationships from disparate parts? How can I connect the flow of raw material in my studio to a larger material stream and thought process?

Line is the fundamental element in my stitched drawings for Material Becomes the Thing, as line is the fundamental structure of cloth and dressmaking. It exists as a filament, a fabric grain, a tracing, a seam, a hem, and an opening. My raw material for this work is a by-product of my dressmaking process and comes in parts. Thread is my connective device to reintegrate cloth fragments and garment remnants into coherent visual relationships. I structure through needlework a crosshatch of materials to establish a new value to what is typically discarded, a new surface to reveal what is commonly concealed in the facades of fashion. 

- Kristin Mariani


Photo Credit Bill Burlingham

Orphaned Fragments: the dissection of particular parts where two things intersect.

This is a series of stitched drawings that I'm developing from my understanding of the armhole as a dressmaker.  It is my closer investigation of the technique of sewing a set-in sleeve, and on the word "armscye" itself.  I was fooled by the word for the first decade of my dressmaking as I was mastering the technique, because most dressmakers refer to and pronounce the opening as "arm's eye."

I'm making these drawings from deconstructed fragments of the armhole, with attachments to other parts pulled from seam allowances.  My drawing process provides a way for me to consider both the construction technique and the devolving of the word "armscye" from etymological fragments.  The dictionary does not provide a clear trace of meaning, nor is it clear that these are drawings of the armhole.

A set in sleeve looks effortlessly beautiful on the outside--a curved arch that holds space for the arm's mobility--however the inside reveals the awkward, imperfect hand work needed to ease the relationship between the sleeve and the armhole.  I'm most interested in these imperfections found on the inside that trace the work of the human hand. I'm purposely distorting the standard pattern technique to balance the arm hole, repeating the compositional format with different results.

Armscye 1 and 2 for ARTwork 6
January 19 - February 1, 2013

A Slip of the Handling

  Photo Credit Day Still 

A Slip of the Handling is a table top styling session that animates the thoughts, gestures, and feelings that go into my design process for RedShift.

Revisiting the designed objects, the table top becomes a playground where materials come within reach of hand and eye again, and the things made go through a blurry process of valuation.  How might the object’s use and value change post-production?

For me the photo session serves as a bartering act between the photographer/camera and myself.  While the camera creates a state of fixation on the object, I rejuvenate my design impulses to transform the materials.  In this mediating session, the hand becomes an instrument of thought and prop for the product of labor, and maker becomes partner in the fetishism of the object.

RedShift for db12, Volume 2
Second-hand Skins
Photo Credit Day Still

Loop Value

Loop Value: The How Much Does It Cost? Shop is a quasi pop-up store that reveals the far reaching impact our habits of consumption have on the world around us.  Visual displays act as educational tools to raise awareness and offer options to remediate these habits.  RedShift created for this exhibit a series of dresses covered in mass market slogans, combining details from a number of thrift store garments.

Exhibit designed by Jason Pickleman 
Photos by Day Still

Records of Use

photo credit Nicole Radja-Time out Chicago

Records of Use
16'x 9'x 3'

Records of Use is a site specific wall installation created for the exhibit Dimensional Lines: Art + Dress at the Evanston Art Center.  Seeking to reveal and elevate the physical evidence of both maker and wearer found between the layers of worn garments, I've developed a vocabulary of line from the by-products of my dressmaking process.  Relating these filaments to the built environment of the exhibit site, I've drawn a grid overlay on the surface of the existing drywall facade at the northern end of the gallery space.  Using the markings of former installations as a compositional device, the remnants become interwoven with the wall.  Deconstructed pattern pieces, pulled seams, and garment parts represent a bodily occupation on the surface of the facade. The grid drawing continues to the backside of the wall to highlight the space between it and the original paneling, revealing the former uses of the historical building.  Here I’ve stitched directly into the surface to leave a lasting record of my own occupation of the site.

(see page 2 of article)

Review: Dimensional Lines: Art + Dress

Frock Talk: Wr)apping

Holding a place where the clusters of activity and records of ruptures can rest.

See Frock Talk photos here

Sound piece by artist Alex Inglizain. See below for more information.

Frock Talk at ESS

photo credit: David Ettinger

A RedShift Production at Experimental Sound Studio for In/Ex/Change
Friday July 22nd, 9am-5pm

ArtStays 9 International Festival of Contemporary Art
Ptuy, Slovenia

In/Ex/Change is an exhibit structured on a respondent network of participation that opens up new pathways for interaction between art organizer, maker, and viewer.  Using fabric as a connective device and social metaphor for this exhibit,  I'm looking at the edges of internal cuts in cloth, areas intentionally perforated, and ruptures that occur as a function of wear and use, as opportunities to create connections socially and materially.   I've made a series of samples and drawings for the exhibit site in Ptuy, Slovenia (a former prison),  inventing a correspondent event here in Chicago called Frock Talk to animate some of the ideas embedded in the art work.

Locating my design practice at Experimental Sound Studio for Frock Talk, I'm offering my alteration and mending services throughout the day to visitors and participants, inviting artists from all disciplines to come and contribute to what I see as a chorus of activities and surfaces. This is a bring your own content event drawing from ruptures, connections, and binding processes where all forms of media and expression are welcome.

The day will unfold as follows...

We'll have a live stream costume alteration with Damjana Mlinaric from Muzikafe in Ptuy, Slovenia for Hole, Lynn Book and Katharina Klement's opera without opera.

Sound artist Alex Inglizain will create an audio response to the production activity by recording the amplified physical movement of hands, needles, scissors, and threads; processing repetitive sounds by use of audio feedback to represent the invariant outcomes of repetitive labor .  The resulting sound scape with video footage and photo documentation from the event will be transmitted to the exhibit site in Ptuy, Slovenia.

Artist Mark Augustine will create urban weaves from three Google site studies.

12:30  ... We'll have a potluck lunch in the garden.

I'll have a make your own party hat table.

Performer Dan Mohr will wrap up the day leading us in Georgian labor songs.

RedShift mending and alteration services will be offered throughout the day.
All proceeds to benefit ESS


 220 South Wabash, Chicago

Soft forms in hard places, cloth as kinetic surface, and the body as architectural facade are recurring themes in my work with interdisciplinary artist and performer Erica Mott.  This image from May 2010 is our first public study for Winged Victory of Samothrace.  Performing in an empty Wabash storefront for Chicago's Pop Up Art Loop, I draped Erica in real time before a small audience as we discussed notions of victory and depictions of the female form in relation to war.  Erica became a live replication of the iconic Greek statue, modeled as if taken from the prow of a ship. 

I continue my collaboration with Erica Mott this Summer as costume designer on her performance The Victory Project.  Developing costumes in close relation to her choreographic process, I'm attending rehearsals at St Luke's Church in Chicago to observe the energetic techniques, physical structures, and improvised sketches composed with the five dancers who make up her cast.  There's continual discussion in the studio on bodily containment and expansion, energetic and physical arrivals, and finding the voice at landing.

The Victory Project premieres July, August, and September of 2011 in Chicago.

 Our second public study for Winged Victory.
July 2010, Dearborn Street, Chicago
all photos by Day Still