Skin + Bones: Parallel Practices in Fashion and Architecture

Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art
November 19, 2006-March 5, 2007


I find inspiration for my wearable art and quilts from books, by taking workshops, and by viewing a variety of museum exhibitions. My strong interest and connection to contemporary architecture has been a significant inspiration for my creative design, so my March 2007 visit to the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art to see the exhibit SKIN + BONES: Parallel Practices in Fashion and Architecture has given me many ideas.

This exhibit examines the shared techniques and processes used by fashion designers and architects to transform two-dimensional materials into three-dimensional designs which both shelter the body and express identity. Architects now incorporate the textile techniques of draping, weaving, printing, pleating, and folding in designing their buildings. Fashion designers use architectural strategies of geometry, suspension, sculptural shaping, and structural forms to increase volume and create unique dimensional “skins” that cover the body. Both are becoming more reliant on computer-aided design programs and the development of new materials in pushing the limits of their imaginations. This exhibit was exceptionally curated and documented, and included a fabulous selection of garments that illustrated the tectonic strategies of architecture, and powerful examples of cutting edge architecture using the vocabulary of textile design so familiar to fiber artists.

Two favorite displays featured Issey Miyake fashions. The Pleats Please clothing sample was a sizable display showing his innovative technique of pleating clothing onto paper. His APOC (A Piece of Clothing) display showed uncut garments of screen-printed polyester “denim” jeans. These garments are seamlessly woven on a tubular loom and then cut into shape. The wearer can choose to cut various shapes out of the tubular garment, selecting such designs as a vee neck, cowl neck, short-, or long-sleeve.

A bonus to this exhibit was seeing the Walt Disney Concert Hall located across the street from the museum. This astonishingly sculptural building was designed by Frank Gehry, and is known for its sweeping curved forms and textile-like stainless-steel skin. It resembles a sailboat in full sail.

I have found the following books and materials useful in stirring my imagination and making me more responsive to the power of art and inspiration:

  • Roger Von Oech, A Whack on the Side of the Head: How You Can Be More Creative; MJF Books, ISBN 1-56731-457-0
  • Jane Sassaman, The Quilted Garden, Design and Make Nature-Inspired Quilts; C & T Publishing, ISBN 1-57120-103-3 (The benefits of daydreaming),
  • Peggy Haden, The Artist’s Quest of Inspiration; Allworth Press, ISBN 1-58115-358-9
  • Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way: a Spiritual Way to Higher Creativity; Tarcher, ISBN 1-58542-146-4
  • Jane Dunnewold, The Creative Process: Dilemma and Dance; (click on essays)