“Re-SOURCING” by Sooo-z Mastropietro
August 9, 2019
There is a saying, “The one who dies with the most fabric wins,” but whether one is a hoarder, collector, or avid fan of fabric there is a good chance things are being put to good use! My latest installation piece, MicroFiberOrganism, is comprised of countless yards of remnants, scraps, bits, and upcycled clothing sewn into tubes and sewn furthermore into intricate creatures. These “microorganisms” float above a coral reef of tubes and represent a fragile ecosystem threatened by vigorous consumerism. It is a story of symbiotic relationships and the delicate balance of industry and humans.
I make fabric tubes from my cast-off clothing and other remnants, and, in recent years, these tubes have become a medium for much of my art both for storytelling and for statements. The tubes themselves serve as “paint strokes,” stipples and pixels, and sometimes I integrate the shredded fiber that results from sewing the tubes into the work as well. My latest work integrates using tubes with sustainable sourcing of fabric, enabling me to directly and indirectly address the concerns of conservation and our fragile ecology.
Hundreds of yards of fabric, miles of quilter’s thread, and countless orphans of abandoned ensembles compose my work. These days of immediate gratification, online ordering, and bulk shopping have catapulted humans into the detritus department. MicroFiberOrganism, is a large scale, walk around soft sculpture that has been in development for over a year. This piece is meant to fill a room with detail, color, and dimension. It utilizes many remnant tube pieces from previous works and continues to grow. To date, the main “organism” tapestry has been exhibited in four juried shows in a modified arrangement each time as it continues to grow. As it grows, I see it expanding on what is already in place but having even more impact when you realize these are all sewn pieces of fabric tubes. This is the first time the work has been exhibited in an installation format.The goal of this installation is to demonstrate the parallel between the dynamic propagation of nature and the vigorous materialism of humans—and to question the continuance of this path. It is a statement regarding the waste created by the $3 trillion textile industry and a story of symbiotic relationships.
I have had the honor to be the first artist-in-residence at the newly refurbished Westport Library in CT. This multi-million dollar endeavor saved the existing footprint of the building while adding in state of the art enhancements to meet 21st century needs. With this shiny new building, there were some hanging restrictions I had to overcome but it forced me to modify my plan. The “organism” element is meant to be a large swarm of colorful creatures suspended in ensemble from the ceiling dangling over an earth tone coral reef situated on the floor. Colorful, random, and varying in dimensions, it is a non-directional work in which the viewer can walk around it and study the many details of its surfaces and further recognize this is very slow art!
Much of my work utilizes wordplay, humor, and puns as a unique method of storytelling. Exploring a more socially conscience theme has been exciting as this recent exhibition has generated positive reactions and impacted many people with the scope of the work as well as the message. It has been my goal to create a large scale multi media installation of this growing entity to demonstrate the extravagance of waste in our world and how it profoundly impacts the balance of things. Exploring the variety and challenged by the limitations of a medium such as fabric tubes has given me the ability to expand beyond visual boundaries.
The acquisition of my fabrics has always come from upcycled clothing of my own hand or purchased yardage from a jobber who subsequently obtained end goods from larger production runs. While maintaining the integrity of the signature I have created in my works, I am now additionally sourcing my fabrics from NYC cutting room sample houses that would otherwise be tossing these random remnants out to the trash. I am making important connections with factory owners who admire my work and are thankful their waifs of the warp are finding a significant purpose.
Facts on Textile Consumption:
- Clothes release half a million tons of microfibers into the oceans every year, equivalent to 50 billion plastic bottles
- In 2014, over 16 million tons of textile waste was generated
- 2.62 million tons was recycled
- 3.14 million tons was combusted for energy
- 10.46 million tons was sent to landfills
- Cost = $45 per ton to dispose of old clothing
- Only 1% of recycled fiber collected by charities is recycled into new fiber
- The average lifetime of cloth is 3 years
- Every second, the equivalent of one garbage truck of textiles is landfilled or burned
- An estimated $500 billion is lost every year due to clothing that’s barely worn and rarely recycled
- About 15% of fabric intended for clothing ends up on the cutting room floor
- It takes more than 5000 gallons of water to manufacture a t-shirt and a pair of jeans