Zero-Waste Goes Installation : Derick Melander

On Monday I went up to Parson’s to see Timo Rissanen to discuss YIELD further — a zero-waste exhibition curated by Timo and Holly McQuillan. TAC will be hosting the NYC leg of the exhibition (YIELD will open in New Zealand at The Dowse Art Museum this month) And there are talks of the show traveling more after it is in Brooklyn from Sept – Nov, 2011.

Timo had just arrived back from Chicago, where a design of his was included in Zero-Waste: Fashion Re-Patterned at the Columbia College A+D Gallery, curated by assistant professor of fashion studies, Arti Sandhu. (See an interview here with Arti, discussing the ideas behind Zero-Waste)

We talked a little about his new book, new course curricula he is writing for Parson’s (on mending!), and looked through photos from the exhibition.

In particular, one thing that stood out to him, was the art displayed in the window — a site specific piece entitled Snow Drift by Derick Melander. I was very intrigued by the photo Timo showed me of the back and front of the display… Upon further investigation, I’ve found a new favorite! And find myself wishing I could make it out to Chicago…

Melander creates “large geometric configurations from carefully folded and stacked second-hand clothing. These structures take the form of wedges, columns and walls, typically weighing between five hundred pounds and two tons. Larger works are often site-responsive, creating discrete environments.”

For Snow Drift, there was an open call to students to donate unwanted clothing. In addition, USAgain donated a ton of garments that would be folded, rolled, and manipulated to create a colorful, and meaningful, wave of clothing that works itself into the overall show. A main goal of zero-waste design is to get both designers and consumers to think about the waste that comes along with fashion — from fabric waste at the design level, to how long we keep and care for good-quality clothing.


In Melander’s words:

“As clothing wears, fades, stains and stretches, it becomes an intimate record of our physical presence. It traces the edge of the body, defining the boundary between the self and the outside world.

The clothing used for these works is folded to precise dimensions with careful attention paid to the ordering of the garments. The sequencing can relate to the way clothing is layered on the body, it can be sorted by color, by gender or by the order that it was received. Individual components are sometimes connected together with shirt sleeves, pant legs and belts, creating bridge-like formations. Through these processes, I hope to engage the viewer and communicate the emotional resonance of second hand clothing.

For me, the process of folding and stacking the individual garments adds a layer of meaning to the finished piece. When I come across a dress with a hand-sewn repair or a coat with a name written inside the collar, the work starts to feel like a collective portrait. As the layers of clothing accumulate, the individual garments are compressed into a single mass, a symbolic gesture that explores the conflicted space between society and the individual, a space that is ceaselessly broken and re-constituted.”

Here’s a look at some of his work (check out his website for some more videos, and explanations of individual pieces).

I really like his drawings, as well. I would love to see something Melander at TAC…

All photos courtesy Derick Melander

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