3.19.2013

Soft Sculpture Set Design: Torsos, Heart, & Lungs



 




 


My studio is overcome with fabric body parts. It looks like a giant blue human exploded and her stuffed organs landed in my midst-- some more recognizable than others. An over-sized set of lungs is slumped in one corner, several pieces of an anatomical heart are strewn across my desk, and two torsos just left the studio last week. If I don't publish a new blog post any Monday in March or April you can safely assume I have been buried under a stack of blue fabric and I am cutting and stitching my way back out.

As some of you know, this blue fabric hoarding is not just a new pastime. I've been commissioned by a local choreographer (Hope Mohr Dance) to design a set for her upcoming premier at the ODC Theater in San Fransisco, May 3-5. Not just any set but a set made entirely of blue fabric and comprised of abstracted body parts. (Read more about it here.) So far the list includes: 3 intestines, 2 torsos, 1 set of lungs, and 1 almost-completed anatomical heart. The to-do list includes: 1 more torso, 1 more intestine, 2 huge brains, and if there is time a small stomach, liver, bladder, and set of kidneys; possibly a bird or a fox.

The set is gigantic compared to my usual scale-- 43 feet across and 35 feet deep-- and the newly renovated theater is absolutely gorgeous. (And let's pretend I'm not intimidated when they claim, "ODC’s two facility, 36,000 square foot campus is now the largest and most comprehensive dance center in the region." Eh hem.) Working on this scale is certainly my biggest challenge. And making soft sculpture pieces that can be worn, wrestled, tossed, turned, pirouetted, and ultimately partnered in contemporary dance-- that is challenge number two.

But it's great fun to experiment with so many materials, fillings, and stitches while working on a scale so gigantic from my norm. It's also great fun to study the various body systems, organ shapes, and beautiful anatomical drawings.  Of course, I drink lots of caffeinated tea while I work and only swear at the sewing machine if she truly deserves it. Which, of course, she usually doesn't.

xoxo,
k.

6 comments:

  1. This is such an exciting project! Congratulations on the commission first. I have always been intrigued by the heart because I had open heart surgery as a toddler. Gil also had an irregular heart beat in utero, so we saw his little ticker beat beat beating away every two weeks to monitor. It was amazing to see the blue and red blood pulsing, skipping and beginning again.
    I love the research that you have been putting into this. I sometimes wonder how different my life would have been if I chose medical illustration instead of interior design when picking my major. (that was a real option and a real consideration) In another life, that's what I'll do.

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    1. thank you for the encouragement, my friend. it's been wonderful to study the illustrations. and wonderfully strange to make them come to life with fabric. i can see you as an awesome medical illustrator. but i think interior designer suits you best :)

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  2. what an incredible project! and so fascinating to have a peek inside your process. i didn't realize the scale you were working on until the photo of you cutting out the torso-- wow.

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    1. yes, the scale is huge. so huge from my normal detail-oriented desk-size scale. the space feels gigantic at nearly 1500 square feet so it's a good stretch to work on that scale. (hi you.)

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  3. accidental hayseed3/21/2013

    I'm a science freak and a quilter so this project sounds yummy to me!

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    1. oh, good! welcome here.

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Thank you for your comments, friends. I like to think we are creating a dialogue in this space--building a virtual community.