SoundSuit by Nick Cave (image via)
I've always loved Nick Cave's pieces at Seattle Art Museum but they didn't prepare me for Meet Me at the Center of the Earth. A life-sized bear made of patchworked sweaters greets you when you enter. The bear (and it's hard not to call it a bear, instead of bear-suit) is flanked by an army of odd fabric creatures all standing under a furry banner proclaiming Meet Me at The Center of the Earth.
Soundsuits by Nick Cave (image via)
With over 50 suits displayed, it does feels like another world. Cave uses found materials to create the suits and they range from the natural (twigs or birds) to the highly ornamental (buttons, beads, embroidery). I had no idea the original suit, made of twigs, was a response to the Rodney King beating. When inert, the suits are beautiful yet somber. People quietly walked through the galleries last night.
SoundSuit, 2010 by Nick Cave (American, born 1961)
Mixed media (photo by James Prinz)
Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery
Which is in direct contrast to the hand-clapping and exclamations that were happening just ten minutes earlier. Once activated, the suits become magical. Last night, Spectrum Dance Theatre wore some of the nights and performed in the lobby. As someone described it, it's like a car wash come to life. The bright, faux fur is whirling and when the dancers get close, the forms almost merge - it's just really beautiful and completes the suits. It reminded me of the religious ecstasy of Shaker dancing.
If you didn't get to see the suits in motion, don't despair. When Nick Cave does shows, one component is to partner with community dance groups to create what are called Invasions. Kind of like a monster flash-mob, the suits show up in public for quick mini-performances. Both Cornish and Spectrum will be performing over the course of the exhibit. Yesterday, the first one happened in a window of Nordstrom around 4pm. Follow SAM on Facebook or Twitter to figure out where they'll be next.
Nick Cave: Meet Me at the Center of the Earth is an invitation by the artist to break free from the confines of our daily life and travel to a place in which imagination is unencumbered. - Pamela McClusky, Curator of African and Oceanic Art (via)
Don't don't miss Meet Me at the Center of the Earth; shows like this are the reason I love SAM!