Sculptural Fashion: Current Conversations

My previous research piece explored sculptural fashion and how volume and structure can be used to study its interaction and influence by or on the body. By taking a look at established brands and the work of select designers, examples from the runway were compared in sculptural terms.

I was curious how both current and past residents of Textile Arts Center’s Artists in Residence (AIR) program explore these themes in their ongoing work, so I had conversations with Meghan O’Sullivan, a current AIR Cycle 9 resident, as well AIR alum, Yoshiyuki Minami of Cycle 6. Here, they weigh in on how their own work fits into the realm of sculptural fashion and how they take on “the body” as a conceptual task.

Meghan O’Sullivan has been working on projects that separate and combine painting, photography, and clothing at TAC’s Brooklyn studio. Her current work with screen print paintings is constantly being inspired by street collage.

Recent work courtesy of Meghan O’Sullivan.

Meghan came to the world of textiles through fashion design: “When I was in school studying fashion design, I discovered that I would express my ideas through creating textiles. It took a while– multiple projects, for me to understand that it was textiles that I was interested in. I did not know.”

“My design process is playful experimentation,” Meghan says. “I explore materiality and use draping to find the garment it wants to be.” Similarly process-driven, Yoshiyuki Minami’s brand Manonik uses a novel technique for textile design. Deemed “three-dimensional pattern weaving,” Yoshiyuki explains that “with this technique, I no longer weave a single layer of cloth to cut and sew when I’m crafting a garment. Instead, I weave three dimensional ‘sculptural’ parts that compose the garment.”


Photo courtesy of Manonik. Instagram: @_manonik_

This sculptural approach to Yoshiyuki’s work explores an interdisciplinary boundary, a process which involves “various techniques depending on the idea: weaving, knitting, crocheting, macramé, felting, to name a few.” Yoshiyuki acknowledges that his work can be viewed in many of the following categories: art, sculpture, fashion, and textiles. He expands, “In reality, though, we – by which I mean our ‘society’ – have a habit of ‘categorizing’ what we see.”

Meghan’s work also speaks to the “boundaries” among art, textile, sculpture, and fashion. Meghan says, “The only boundary is comfort when creating a garment to be worn, but that, however, is dependent on the purpose. Right now for my work, I am moving towards more wearable clothes and more experimental paintings.. you could also say more wearable paintings.”


Recent work courtesy of Meghan O’Sullivan.


These refusals of boundaries and naming or categorizing their work are commonalities between these artists. In fact, Meghan often sees herself as a painter one day and her version of a “fashion editor/photographer/stylist/art director” the next. She says, “I see my personal work developing in opposite directions at the same time.”

While Meghan uses the body as a canvas for “wearable paintings,” Yoshiyuki similarly draws a deep connection between textile and body, never seeing them as separate. He says, “My understanding is that textile has always existed ‘on’ or close to the body, whether it’s cloths or clothes, rugs, upholstery, etc. Designing textile, at least for me, has always been an integral part of designing garments.”


Photo courtesy of Manonik. Instagram: @_manonik_ 


During the design process, Yoshiyuki asks many questions: “What materials do I use? How do I use the materials to create something that would comfortably embrace our bodies? How do I want the textile to feel when put on the skin?” The answers to these questions are inspired by family and friends, as well as those with a “dedication to a cause or a craft.”

Recent work by both these past and present AIR residents exemplify the strength and meaning that is gained when categories of art and craft or sculpture and fashion become irrelevant to understanding – and enjoying – a work.


Want to become an AIR resident yourself? Applications are now open for Cycle 10! Apply by March 19th, 2018 here:

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