View Full Version : silk sculpture
04-14-2004, 10:46 AM
I am new to forum and would like to post some quick photos that I have taken of my latest installation. I am in my last semester of school at the Kansas City Art Institute. This piece is made of unspun silk "hankies" (pure silk straight from cocoon and matted into squares), silk thread, wooden frame and light. I am in the process of creating a web page and will post that link when completed. I work with "non traditional" materials and my medium is always changing. What do you all think?
04-14-2004, 06:00 PM
This is very beautiful. It's also very unlike my own sculpture, which is in more traditional materials, and concerned with form in relation to space and all that stuff. I don't know if I have anything of value to say about this kind of work. But it has its own beauty. I like the way it interacts with light in many different ways: It's translucent in some views but opaque in others, and it would be very kinetic outside, or probably even inside where it'd react to people moving and breathing in the room. And it casts a shadow, so by god it's sculpture, I guess. Welcome aboard, and I look forward to seeing more of this.
04-14-2004, 07:33 PM
I think it is great!! I didnt care for installation type sculpture until I started going to school, and understand the concept of people interacting with the sculpture and all of that. My question is, is it meant to be placed by itself? I figure that it is probably just at home right now, but is it meant to be viewd going down a staircase, so you can experience it from different perspectives, or is more meant to be looked atr from the gound, so it gives the feeling of this towering mass, made from gente material? Prehaps you didnt that that deeply about it but I still think it's cool.
04-14-2004, 09:29 PM
not sure if I am doing this reply correctly, never done a forum before!
Thank you for your feed back. The sculpture was made with that location in mind, it is the main office building at KCAI. The height of the installation goes up to the second floor, so when traveling up the stairs your view of the piece is always changing, as the stair case wraps around the piece. So it is meant to be viewed from all of those view points. It is a sort of cocoon. The idea behind it is to make a space for transformation and protection a sort of chrysalis.
Your comment on the movement was right on. The piece is highly sensitive to the slightest breeze, however I think that it is to fragile for an outdoor installation. The silk is so amazingly light the entire piece weighs under 2.5 pounds and is made up of about 9,000 cocoons. As you say it is definatly moving and breathing in the room, it really posseses its own life. It is a different sort of sculpture some where between sculpture/installation and fiber art. Never been to good at staying in medium. Thanks for your comments.
Did you choose silk out of a desire for that sense of motion you mentioned, because it was so light yet strong, or is there also some conceptual connection between the medium and the viewer - for instance were you intending some link between Asian culture and Western?
I can't quite remember for certain, but I think there was a push in the U.S. some time ago to raise silkworms here, but it didn't work out because there was a problem with the mulberry trees they depend on. If, so, then silk is still primarily produced in the Orient. Is there a political or cultural aspect to your work? How did you actually make the fabric? Your description sounded similar to paper making or felt perhaps.
The fabric and your grid of squares are beautiful.
04-16-2004, 05:45 PM
Is there a political or cultural aspect to your work? How did you actually make the fabric? Your description sounded similar to paper making or felt perhaps.
This piece is really about that individual. Using silk as a medium I hope to refer to the idea of transformation and protection. Silk (the type used in fabric), being a material that caterpillars create to make into a cocoon, is a powerful natural sanctuary created to house metamorphosis. It is from that process that I draw inspiration.
Politically, the silk sculpture is also representing our relationship with nature. How we have so grossly manipulated nature to our benefit (or demise). The idea of environmental ignorance crosses many borders. So my sculpture also serves as a magnification of a tiny bit of nature. We americans like big things, so I have been working with the concept of turning a microcosms into a macrocosms, to get the point across.
I suppose that due to our modern "material" association with silk that it may provoke other connotations about the relations between Asian cultures and American culture. But that really was not in my mind during the creation process.
The actual silk squares are made in silk factories, (most probably by under paid workers) the silk cocoons are boiled when the cocoon is completed and the moth is killed. Workers then individually unspin each cocoon and wrap them onto a board that is a frame for the squares. The squares or "hankies" are then sold to yarn/thread makers to dye and spin into silk yarn/thread. This process may vary, that is what I have found in my research. The workers are mostly women and have the privilege of being able to eat the dead moths as they please. An interesting industry. I received the hankies in packages and separated and sewed them together with red silk thread.
Hope that answers your questions, thanks for your input and response.
04-16-2004, 09:01 PM
Did you choose silk ...
I can't quite remember for certain, but I think there was a push in the U.S. some time ago to raise silkworms here, but it didn't work out because there was a problem with the mulberry trees they depend on. If, so, then silk is still primarily produced in the Orient. ...
JAZ and others. Several interesting points here. Silk was attempted commercially in this area (south Louisiana) at least by about 1800, but failed for reasons I don’t know. Mulberry trees grow fairly well here, with new ones sprouting from seeds dropped by birds. (The berries are quick to stain also. I discovered that at about age nine while walking back and forth between home and school. My mother told me to avoid the tree. The stains are impossible or next to, to remove.)
On a very different plane: I’m fairly sure someone is working to have silk produced by cows in their milk, using silkworm genes and gene-engineering techniques. Cows are efficient producers of milk, and researchers are trying to add many materials to milk production, such as medicinals. The cost would drop quite a bit from chemical manufacture, and the process is considered “greener” - less dependent on nonrenewable energy sources.
04-18-2004, 05:36 PM
fritchie, your last is one of the creepiest things I've ever heard of. I hope you're joking. What, we are not content with what cows produce from their ta tas? We want to genetically alter them to put out other consumer products? Silk? Why not gold? Whynot hamburger? Maybe they could spew out the newspaper, so we wouldn't have to bother to write it. This is madness. God help us.
04-18-2004, 10:19 PM
[QUOTE= This is madness. God help us.[/QUOTE]
I was unaware of the cow thing but I do know of spider silk genes being introduced into goats. It is really creepy and in my opinion we just should not be medeling with such things. But the question is where is the line, I mean already we have manipulated so many things in nature and as a society we seem to be ok with that, why should this be any different? The ball is already rolling. Silk producing catipallers (the kind used for production) can no longer survive in the wild because they have been gentically altered so greatly to produce silk that they cannot fly! Tragic! So, as dusturbing and wrong as I think that the goat/spider splicing thing is it is just as bad as what we have been doing for such a long time already. ie. the monsanto corp and there manipulation of plants, the beef and poultry industry and the list goes on and on. So we need to be upset about all of these things! after all not only does it disrupt the balance of nature but it usually is something that we are consuming and putting into our own bodies! Yuck.
For more information on the "Bio Steel Goats" check out this web page:
04-19-2004, 09:33 PM
[QUOTE=Saint B]I was unaware of the cow thing but I do know of spider silk genes being introduced into goats. It is really creepy ...
After I made that post, I realized myself what some of the reaction would be, and I also need to apologize to Saint B for not adding my congratulations for some excellent work that clearly took time and dedication.
People need to understand, however, that there IS no “balance of nature”. The universe changes constantly. Some Zen saying is a bit like “The only constant is change”. (I’m not well acquainted with philosophy of any sort, but wisdom of any sort makes itself visible.) Life on Earth has been about 90 to 95% wiped out at least couple of times by meteor strikes or other causes, and eventually the sun will fry the Earth to a crisp as it expands and engulfs this planet.
In the meanwhile, it behooves us to make this the best place we can for all who reside here. This means constantly striking new states of balance. I also find it a bit abhorant that individual animals are in effect being transformed into factories for various materials. This probably is more justified in the case of pharmaceuticals such as insulin, human growth hormone, and the like, than for purely industrial materials like silk. However, I don’t think I’m the person to say “the line is here and nowhere else”.
(And, I could be wrong about cows; it may be only goats. I believe insulin, and perhaps other human pharmaceuticals, are produced with pigs as carriers,)
04-20-2004, 12:59 PM
The "balance of nature" may operate on such a large scale that humans - being part of it and contained within it after all - cannot allways see it working. But that does not mean it doesn't exist. The history of Science is replete with unforeseen and calamitous effects of the best laid plans. That seems especially true in people's attempts to "improve" the food chain. The genetic manipulation of corn to prevent certain pests from eating it has also neutered a huge percentage of the butterflies in the Midwest. To what effect? We don't know yet. The Interior Dept's release of water from Klamath Lake in so. Oregon - in order to support farmers, who vote - killed off an entire run of salmon and other androgenous fish downstream. To what effect? We don't know yet. I've watched the salmon and steelhead runs, as well as the eels and otters which used to follow them, disappear from the stream I live on in the last 25 years, due to pesticides and fertilizers and other "improvements". Unlike meteors, people make choices, and we are responsible for the results, whether we know them yet or not. These are political and moral matters - supposed to be verboten on this site - and I think your belief in your position is as much religion as science.
04-20-2004, 09:02 PM
The "balance of nature" may operate on such a large scale that humans - being part of it and contained within it after all - cannot allways see it working. But that does not mean it doesn't exist. ... These are political and moral matters - supposed to be verboten on this site - and I think your belief in your position is as much religion as science.
The “balance of nature” concept I referred to above is that usually cited in discussions of this sort, which I take to mean “humans stay out; leave it alone”. What I attempted to say is that, preferences otherwise, change occurs constantly, through perfectly natural processes as well as human intervention, and that it can be on enormous scale.
And, yes, opinions are personal and generally not totally rationally based.
04-21-2004, 08:11 AM
"this is madness-god help us"-----transgenetic goats and cows and food crops and......deforestation and reforestation....and building in floodplains....and....
If your viewpoint is negative, "the box has been opened but it still contains hope"
I believe that GHIA (the earth) is alive and well and very intelligent, and she thinks in millenia, while very few of us(her children) can think beyond a decade or 2. My "religion" is that everything within our range of possibilities is within her plan. She has bred us to be the lords of fire, as we would breed cows to yield more milk, or more butterfat, or breed corn for larger ears and higher sugar content. We are an inquisative species who has to tinker and experiment. We make a lot of mistakes. Maybe that is for the better as we learn and evolve.
We are artists within that species and try to turn the same tools used for destruction to the creation of beauty.
"crank up those torches and forges, and warm up that oil clay and get back to work"
04-23-2004, 10:56 AM
it has been so interesting to see what conversation that my sculpture has provoked. Thank you all for your feed back and opinions on these matters that are so important to discuss. I hope to post some more pics soon of my next work. Thanks,
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