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Monday, September 27, 2010

SJ Museum of Quilts and Textiles: Corinne Okada, Colleen Quen and Rick Lee

TECHstyle SoftWEAR:
San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles
September 16 – October 31, 2010

Click on Images to Enlarge

Last week I attended the opening of "TECHstyle SoftWEAR: Surface & Shape" at the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiels. It is an artwear installation that reflects Silicon Valley through the eyes, vision and creativity of three artists who all just happen to be my friends. The textiles were inspired by the public and formally designed by Corinne Okada Takara. The sculptural artwear gowns were created by San Francisco Couturier Colleen Quen and showcased in an environment designed by furniture and industrial designer Rick Lee.

When I walked into the exhibit area the first thing I noticed was the "Topography" gown. Almost instantaneously my eye was drawn upward to the amazing quilted metal installation that encompassed the ceiling above the two artwear gowns.

I was able to chat with Rick for a few minutes at which time he explained to me the fabrication of his "Mirror E-cloud" quilted metal installation. The piece is comprised of polished aluminum that was laser cut with stitch marks and bent into the panels that were then hung. I have to say that I loved this exhibit. The way the gowns, the fabrics and the metal quilt didn't just complement but actually interacted with each other was really wonderful. Just like a quilt made up of different patterns and pieces, Rick's mirrored quilt picked up different reflections around the room (including the people) creating different colors and patterns.

The sleeves of the gown seem to defy physics when you consider they are constructed with boning to create the massive, over extended shapes. Even as I studied them I could only wonder at how such thin strips of boning could support such large swaths of fabric and on top of that, how did Colleen ever figure out how to create the pattern/placement of the boning to do this in the first place? Particularly the sleeve on the right whose shape and print were both inspired by the rotunda of San Jose's City Hall.

With me that evening was my friend Armando Sarabia. We were speculating what these little bumps in the skirt of the gown represented. His guess was they were "the valley" meaning the rolling hills that surround Silicon Valley. My guess was that they were "start ups" since Silicon Valley always has new companies popping up all over the place. Turns out Armando was right and I was wrong. I thought my guess was a pretty good one though. LOL

And the collaborating extended beyond Corinne, Rick and Colleen working together. The public was encouraged to submit imagery that represented Silicon Valley to them. While some fabrics were designed by Corinne, contest winners Deborah Corsini, Jonathan McCabe, and Laurel Shimer all submitted ideas that were incorporated in the installation.

The digital textile department at Kent State University's School of Fashion's TechStyleLAB printed the silks for the Topography Gown. Spoonflower also printed some of the designs to fabric.

The "Emotion" Gown floating beneath Rick's Mirrored Quilt

It looks like a huge, paper doll, gown lantern

Since this is Silicon Valley and the focus of the installation was based on technology I thought it was really cool when Corinne explained that some of the fabric patterns used in the gowns were created by quotes from some correspondences that she sent through an emotion mapping sofware program called "Synesketch." Words are converted to colors and patterns and were in turn printed to the fabrics. Yeah, that's pretty geeky.

That's Rick Lee (to the left of the gown) with his arm upraised as he describes his installation to some interested attendees.

I'd never been to the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles before. Some of the other quilts on display were just amazing. I tried taking up quilting. I finished one of probably what should have been at least 14 panels and never made another one. Eventually I turned it into an end cushion. LOL So much for that.

Corinne Okada and Colleen Quen at the opening of "Surface & Shape"

A happy accident. I was goofing with my camera settings just to see what I'd get and wow, I love this photo! The walls weren't nearly that bright of a blue but, they were blue which isn't possible to tell in any of the other photos I took as the shadowing made them look black. Anyways, I loved how the reflections from Rick's installation created this cool pattern on the walls and wanted to share it with you.

And from Corinne's Cultural Tech-Fusion Fabrics... Inspiration and Assembly. Click on any photo to visit http://techfusionfabrics.weebly.com/fabric-blog.html

San Jose's City Hall Rotunda

And the Rotunda Inspired Fabric

Alviso Salt Flats Photo

Fabric Inspired by Simon Phipps Photo

Rick's Prototype in Miniature

The Installation in Progress

1 comment:

  1. Thank you, Stacie, for such a lovely review. Your photos are beautiful and I was thrilled to see you at the reception!


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