Category Archives: Fashion

INTERVIEW//VISUAL ARTIST JAI CARRILLO

“Hello Hello” Interview with Jai Carrillo by Rae Rubio

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Hand sewn black drop crotch sewn from a skirt skirt. (photo by Laura Cohen)

I first met Jai working together at a frame shop in the Inner Richmond district of San Francisco.   We kept eyeing each other from across the work place because of each other’s fashionable art wear. I knew then we’d be friends, and I’ve always known he’d have something to share with the world of his talents.   Jai is an emerging queer textile artist based in San Francisco. He explores his vision of art through fibers, photography, fashion, and beauty.

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Portrait of Jai embroidering (photo by Korey Luna)

Favorite quote: “What is straight? A line can be straight, or a street, but the human heart, oh, no, it’s curved like a road through mountains.” – Tennessee Williams, A Streetcar Named Desire

Rae: Now let’s begin with this interview.  Can you recall a memory of when you first started making art and textiles? How did you start being serious about it?

Jai: My earliest memory of creativity was at 5 years old. When the Disney movie The Little Mermaid came out, I needed to have the Barbie version. What was available to me was a generic Barbie doll and a squeaky rubber shark. With scissors in hand, I cut the shark’s head off and placed Barbie, legs first, inside. This wasn’t the most glamorous mermaid, but I was happy.

What could be more queer than the juxtaposition of a vicious, blood thirsty boy’s toy and tender, petite girl’s doll? Years later, I began hand sewing dresses for my Barbies, which was the beginning of my textile journey.

At 17 years old, I got my first sewing machine. It wasn’t until college that the study of textile arts was something people practiced, not just fashion. Weaving, fiber dyes, basketry, embroidery, and pattern design became outlets for new creative expressions.

Rae: How would you describe your subject matter or the content of your work?

Jai: The term “queer” has various connotations depending on generation, gender politics, and community. To be vague, I describe queer as a feeling, person, or idea that does not follow traditional thinking in Western culture. The subject is queer because it challenges conventional ideas of gender presentation around masculinity. Breaking down ideas of gender association with textiles opens up new visual and tactile experiences.

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Rae: What mediums do you work with?

Jai: Since I went to college to study photography, the idea of portraits appealed to me. Once digital photography was integrated into the practice, I became disassociated with the subject and struggled relying on technology as a tool for expression.

Just like a photograph, embroideries are portraits that capture a moment in time. What’s special about textiles is the hours, days, and months spent recreating that stillness.

Knitting, crocheting, sewing, and embroidery became my favorite practices. I began working with recycled materials like lingerie to make boxing gloves. Knitting with thick yards of wool to create boxing gloves presents a delicate approach to a violent male dominated sport.

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After 3 semesters of textiles and a self portrait embroidery assignment, needlework fulfilled many of my queer creative desires. When researching books on embroidery, I found a technique called “Blackwork” which uses counted repeat patterns to create graduation with thread count and filling in extra stitches. Using embroidery fabric that uses counted stitches per inch, stitches create a pixel effect that can make an image. Perfecting this technique has taken years and seems to be what I enjoy most.

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Rae: Do you see your work as relating to any current movement or direction in visual art or culture?

Jai: Photography has been used to document diverse cultures and communities. Queer youths are losing visibility as western cultures come closer to equal rights between same sex relationships. Since same sex marriage is an option in California, homosexuals can be seen following hetero-normative traditions like monogamy and child rearing. San Francisco has become an epicenter for queer youths and people living with HIV.

As unemployment rates and homelessness are increasing, 4 condominiums for single family are being built within a 3 mile radius, leaving queers and people of color to move where? Where can queer people of color gain visibility when so much attention goes to living a traditional lifestyle in an expensive city?

It’s important to bring attention to conflicts that may not be part of our community, and art has always been a medium to share worldwide. In public, my mannerism, my petite figure, and floral print outfits read me as a big ole’ queer.  My art looks at ambiguity and anonymity of one’s ethnicity and gender to challenge our prejudices and really look into behaviors.

Rae: Do you intend for your work to challenge the viewer?

Jai: Historically, so much of art subjects the female body to the male gaze. The female body is objectified in all art forms as well as film, television, and advertisement. The female body has become a normative part of western culture and is rarely disputed for being publicly displayed yet often critiqued. When naked male bodies are viewed in the public eye, discomfort and associations with homophobia rise.

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Why is there a binary between the sexes? It’s obivious that the imagery is of gay sex and pornography. Beyond gay sex, the experience the viewer has with the art challenges perceptions on sexuality, gender, and race.

When the phallus is delicately embroidered, one is forced to look closely at the details, and see the phallus as something beautiful. Men are challenged to look at the sexual context of the art.

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Rae: What are you presently inspired by? Are there particular things you are reading, listening to, or looking at to fuel your work?

Jai: Works by the playwright Tennessee Williams have been influential by romanticizing tragedy and dishonor. Williams often writes about homosexual characters hiding from their true self. Characters that live dual lifestyles often have the most mystery which leads to tragedy. I think the unspoken sexual deviance becomes a curiosity and informal awakening to sexual diversity in current culture.

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Rae: What do you love most about being an artist in San Francisco?

Jai: Whenever I walk around the city, there is some imprint of art in the streets. Someone knits yarn around a tree or bike post, coy fish skeletons float on the cement of my neighborhood, spray painted stencils denouncing building condominiums mark my walk to work.

The effort and amount of expression is unlimited in San Francisco. Since I’m working as a Hairstylist at Edo Salon, I’m inspired by everything that can be translated into hair. Color, patterns, compositions all influence my esthetics. There are many street artists as well as gallery artists that are passionate for their craft. Passion is what makes art live and inspires me to create as well.

Rae: Describe your personal style?

Jai: It’s kind of hard to say what my style is like…I guess I’m like a Golden Girl from the 1950’s who bumped into Vivianne Westwood. Yeah, that’s it.

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Handmade floral jersey blouse and shorts (photo by Laura Cohen)

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Baroque hold shorts made by me from skirt (photo by Laura Cohen)

Rae: Any influential artists that you love and admire?

Jai: Kiki Smith, Claude Cahun, Robert Mapplethorpe, Pierre et Gilles, Tom of Finland, Kenneth Anger, James Bidgood, and Nick Cave are artists that I reference during creative brainstorming. Using traditional techniques of portrait photography, Robert Mapplethorpe showed the beauty and sensuality in bondage and discipline sexual practices with soft lighting in black and white photography. James Bidgood created a pink, glitter filled bedroom and story tale forests to depict homoerotic desires. With an 8mm film camera, Bidgood created a full length film in his studio apartment, lots of paper mache, and filmed male sex workers to create Pink Narcissus. I love the parallels between sexual deviance and magical eroticism. Softening our visions of underground sexual practices of pain and submission creates a kitsch value I love exploring.

Rae: Are there any artists you want to collaborate with in the future?

Jai: Nick Cave creates gorgeous sculptures and suits used for performances. Cave uses different mediums and has so much knowledge for constructing these suits. The details are hand crafted and take a crew to build. I’d love to perform and build a suit with him.

Rae: What music inspires you when you are making art? Any bands or genre you are currently listening to?

Jai: Erykah Badu, Kate Bush, and the Delfonics have been creative sidekick when I want to mellow out, sit in my rocking chair, and embroider. Whenever I’m speeding through a sewing project and need some energetic tunes, Kelis, Animal Collective, No Doubt, Santigold, and Nina Hagen are right by my side.

Rae: When are you most creative, time of day?

Jai: Like many artists who like to procrastinate, the late hours tend to be the most productive. Probably because I’m tired and a little delusional from long hours at work. What has been helpful to enhancing that creativity, is organizing craft nights with friends and roommates. The energy in a room filled with artists presents a bounty of influence, support, and fun that can’t be found alone in my room in the middle of the night.

Rae: Lastly, are you involved in any upcoming shows or events? Where and When?

Jai: During San Francisco’s LGBTQ Pride Month, I was part of a collective art show “Queering Mythologies,” sponsored by the Queer Cultural Center. The show gave me inspiration to work on projects I’ve halted for 3 years. I’m currently working on a burlesque performance piece about a boxer who comes out a queer. The outfits will be covered in red sequins and lace.

Rae: Thank you for the interview Jai! I’ll be seeing you around soon!

Chack out Jai’s website: 28bobbypins.blogspot.com/

email: jaicutshair@yahoo.com

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The Interview: Textile Artist Kristin Jeanette Petiford

Kristin Petiford is an emerging textile feminist artist based in Oakland, California. She recently had received her BFA in Textile at CCA Oakland. She does needlework, weaving, sculpture, drawing, painting, and screen printing.

Rae: Any cool nicknames you’ve been given?

Kristin: My school friends call me Kiki! My sister calls me Poopy, but that’s not very cool.

Rae: Which cities have you lived in?

Kristin: I grew up in L.A. and Orange Country, then moved to Berkeley and eventually settled in Oakland. So far, I love Oakland the most!

Rae: What influenced you to work with textiles? What do you love about it?

Kristin: I had always been into sewing, but I fell in love with Textiles as a whole during an Intro to Textiles course I took at CCA. I loved the tediousness of it and the manipulation of the fibers: the repetition and the tactility. And the history! When you pick up a needle, you are tapping into this huge expanse of history in women’s work and feminist art and that’s just so exciting! Rozsika Parker’s The Subversive Stitch is a great book on that subject.

Rae: I’m going to have to check that book out myself! Did you have role models that you were aspiring to emulate? If so, who? And Why?

Kristin: I’ve had the opportunity to study under some amazing people at CCA, so I think I aspire to be a mish-mash of them, my mom (she’s the nicest person alive), Louise Bourgeois (I am just obsessed with her pink marble sculptures and their bodily forms), Ghada Amer (I love her use of text and the way she describes embroidery as a feminine language), Alison Smith (for her collections), Kathleen Hanna (who wouldn’t want to be like her!) and Lena Corwin (for living the dream of making cute things, having a great blog and doing it with substance)

Rae: Why did you pick CCA Oakland to get your BFA in Textiles? What is it about their program that enticed you to go there?

Kristin: I actually went to CCA for Illustration, but took Intro to Textiles as an elective my first semester there. After falling head over heels for Textiles, I switched majors! I like the freedom of the Textiles program at CCA….you can really tailor it to fit your interests. There is a lot of versatility in being able to use different processes (weaving, embroidery, lace making, screen printing, fiber sculpture) to express what it is you want to express. I feel like I was able to get a very well rounded education. The faculty is really great too. And CCA is basically the hub of Craft theory right now!

”]Rae: Any new upcoming projects you are working on?

Kristin: I have decided to spend the summer reading all the books I have accumulated on my “to-read” list: Carol Gilligan’s The Birth of Pleasure is the first! I am doing the Renegade Craft Fair for the first time in July…I’m making some very ladylike prints and accoutrements to sell. I’m currently collaborating on a zine called Girly Magazine that’s about femininity and feminism. We’re making an online version and we’ll be distributing it locally soon! As far as art-making goes I’m working on some material studies in wood and silk..I was able to create some fleshy forms through wood-turning for my show and I am itching to do more with that through carving. Lace and silk are two of my favorite things so I am interested in snagging and tearing the threads of silk fabric, inspired by Reticella, to create lace-like structures. Ok, I have a lot of upcoming projects.

Rae: How have your expectations changed over the years?

Kristin: I think I was a little bit afraid of the art world for a long time. I loved to paint and draw for myself, but I always figured I’d go into design or illustration. After doing some of that, I realized that I am so much happier making art…at least for now. So, my expectations for myself have changed quite a bit and will continue to change, I’m sure.

Rae: I really like the statement you made about your BFA thesis exhibition.  Why did you pick this topic, and what influenced you in commenting about ladies and their roles in society?

"Clean & Dainty" installation view

Kristin: Thanks! Oh, I could talk about this for hours….but I’ll give you the abridged version. I had been doing work that was about heirlooms and ideas of femininity passed from woman to woman…feminine lineage. I sent letters to the women in my life asking them about their views of femininity and my Granny sent me this long story about how when she went to college, they had social advisors who made sure the girls were turning out to be “proper and educated southern belles.” So I became really interested in etiquette and how women and girls are constantly being told what to do, how to look, and how to be. The name for my show, Clean & Dainty, came from Joan Brumberg’s The Body Project, in her chapter about the way American girls have learned to menstruate (sorry to the boys reading this right now!) She talks about how girls are not taught about the sexual and emotional changes in becoming a woman, but are instead taught to be clean and dainty. She also describes how girls’ bodies have become public….how magazines and advertisements have weaseled their way into being the authority on girls’ looks and demeanors: teaching girls to sit pretty and be decorative objects, basically. So the exhibition was a critique on that, but it was also an homage to the feminine, and a celebration of being able to subscribe to these “rules,” but doing so in a way that is personal and empowering. As I wrote in the statement, the show became “a space of conflicting morals: where modestly hosed legs sit beneath raised hemlines and perfectly polished nails grasp glasses of whiskey.”

Rae: Wow, that sounds intense, heavy, and interesting. I’m going to have to check out that book as well! Did your family encourage your creativity?

Kristin: Yes! My mom majored in Art at Cal State Long Beach, so she always encouraged me to paint and draw and sew. My sisters have always been very supportive as well…my older sister still has a pen & ink drawing displayed in her house that I did 10 years ago! My aunt does some amazing watercolors and just gifted me her old Glimakra table loom, yay!

Rae: What will you be doing now, having graduated from CCA?

Kristin: I want to be involved in some group shows! I’m also really looking forward to taking classes at community college…like Anthropology or French. I’m looking forward to playing my ukulele more. Grad school is on my mind, too…..

Rae: What do you consider to be the key factors to be an emerging artist in today’s world?

Kristin: The one thing that I am always trying to keep in mind is to have confidence in what you are doing. If you are doing it, you are doing it for a reason! And to know at least some of the history of what you’re doing. I am also learning that it is very important (and kind of fun!) to have a web presence…I just got the internet in my apartment, so I’m snazzing up my website and my blog a bit!

Rae: And lastly, music is a huge help with my art-making. What type of music or bands do you listen to while making art?

Kristin: I really like listening to Motown when I work!

Rae: Thanks for the interview Kristin. Check out her website at

http://kristinpetiford.com/home.html

tUnE-yArDs ‘Bizness’ Shoot: the Merging of Creative Powers

In honor of the tUnE-yArD’s  playing at Great American Music Hall tonight (with Buke and Gass and Man/Miracle), I thought I’d share some of my photos and words of my experience PA’ing on the set of the ‘Bizness’ video a few months ago here in San Francisco.

(For those of you who haven’t seen it:)

I first heard tUnE-yArDs at Rickshaw Stop last May during SF Popfest.  My friend, the talented Mimi Cave (who would later direct the Bizness video), was onstage as a backup dancer and I stopped by after work to see her.  I was excited to check out a collaboration of modern dance and pop music, first and foremost. But  I remember being truly blown away by the entrancing and tribal sounds Merrill Garbus created with African-inspired drum riddims and looping tenor ukulele and vocals. Not to mention the power of the large brass section she had backing her that night.

I immediately became a fan, addicted to the twangy beat and gravelly yodeling of  Hatari. I later found myself in LA when tUnE-yArDs opened Hollywood Bowl for Buena Vista Social Club and Goldfrapp, having no previous idea how she had and would  continue to blow up the music world.  When Mimi put out a call for help on the set of the artists’ first ‘official’ music video earlier this year, I jumped at the opportunity.

Music videos, and ‘Bizness’ in particular, are epitomes of collaborative work. The cast and crew on the neon-forested set included choreographers, filmmakers, dancers, art directors, makeup artists, hair artists, costume designers, directors, set builders, videographers, producers, ‘kid wranglers’… and of course, musicians.   Each person worked hard and fast toward a larger vision.  Videos like this one are a true testament to the success of creative collaboration, utilizing almost all of the art-forms that we at Artlarking are into.

Merrill Garbus getting diva'd up by Kat Steinmetz

I attended the first meeting where all parties involved in the video met and brainstormed- passionate creatives like choreographer Sonia Reiter, hair artist Lorenzo Diaz, makeup designer Kat Steinmetz, art directors Miriam Lakes and Adrian Elliot, director of photography Devin Whetstone, and many more.  Everyone came together with ideas before Garbus showed up. It was great to see specialized professionals give feedback to various areas of the production.

When Garbus did show up to that first meetup, she was most likely one of the most down to earth people there- she told me she was having a hard time getting used to the photoshoots and planning while her mind was occupied with world events and local injustices. (From an interview with the Guardian UK: “I do feel like I should be doing social justice work sometimes, but I also retain the right to say that this – my music – this is doing enough for the world.”)  She talked about what she envisioned with her video premiere. She didn’t want to lip sync, as it felt too ‘diva’/pop/fake, for example. But she amiably let the creative specialists run with their ideas.

Merrill and dancers rehearse at Autofuss

I spent the next couple of weekends at production studio, Autofuss, in Potrero Hill; and at an Chabot Elementary in Oakland helping build colorful cardboard rocks and trees, painting yellow triangles on kids’ faces, and chalking schizophrenic geometry onto cold concrete studio floors:

Art Director Miriam Lakes amongst the cardboard forest

One of my favorite kids on snack-break from a long day of filming in Oakland

What struck me about being a small part of the process of the video was the respect each person involved had for each others art form and how everyone stepped up to create a finished product that is much bigger than the sum of its parts.

Director Mimi Cave and DP Devin Whetstone

Director Mimi Cave and DP Devin Whetstone with dancers

In between filming at Chabot Elementary

The workflow on site was also an fascinating aspect: days on sets started at 7am and there was a lot of waiting around, but when it came time to get moving on a scene, all of the components and people – hair, makeup, costume, choreography, etc- came together super smoothly (thanks in large part to the serious organizational production skills of Mimi Cave).  This was especially impressive when the cast included dozens of restless 9 year-olds who had to sit still at their desks on a Saturday, and about 20 modern dancers posed in awkward positions on freezing, chalky concrete floors:

Filming in the Classroom

Chalky dancers during the stop-motion segment

Congratulations to everyone who worked on the video (that has now gone viral, indicated by its showing up on a ridiculously wide range of my friends’ Facebook walls/Twitterfeeds from across the globe soon after its release).  From that preliminary amorphous meeting to the final stop-motion editing by Ashley Rodholm (great job!), I feel lucky to have participated in what can happen when great creative minds merge on a solid project.

So looking forward to seeing the sold out show live- see you at Great American tonight, if you’re lucky enough to have gotten tickets!

-AMD

P.S. For more photos of the shoot, check out my flickr sets here and here.

TONIGHT! Discarded to Divine Fashion Preview @ the DeYoung

Discarded to Divine is a fantastic event started by St.Vincent de Paul Help Desk director Sally Rosen.  She saw so many unusable clothes being discarded at St.V de P that she founded an opportunity for fashionistas to transform them, Cinderelly style.

Aspiring and professional fashion designers make unique couture creations and home decor out of discarded, ripped, stained, and otherwise unusable clothing.  The masterpieces are then auctioned off at a charitable auction in San Francisco, with proceeds going to those overcoming homelessness, domestic violence, and poverty.

Tonight, I’m super excited for Natasha Sheveleva, of Freedom Fibers, who will be showcasing one of her creations at the Preview Showcase at Friday Nights at the De Young– transformed pants into a dress.  Natasha was one of the four designers in Artlarking’s Industrial Springtime fashion show that we held last year at the SUB.

Check her out at the video from that event:

Friday Nights (tonight from 5:30-9) will also showcase a fashion/film multimedia lecture, flamenco dancing, and access to all the exhibits (like the amazing Balenciaga show) so see you at the DeYoung!

-Alison

Scintillating Textiles: Samantha Bittman

"Zebra 1" 2009 acrylic on handwoven textile

Fashion/Textile artist of the week,  Chicagoan Samantha Bittman, creates these stunning pieces by painting with acrylic on textiles .  She graduated from Rhode Island School of Design with a BFA and also received an MFA at the School of the Art Institute of Design.

Some of her flashy pieces  were shown last month at the West, Wester, Westest group show @ FFDG  (248 Fillmore St. in San Francisco.)   Staring at them long and hard, one can get the whole effect.  They put me in a trance.  – Rae

"Zebra 2" 2009 acrylic on handwoven textile

"Zebra 3" 2009 acrylic on handwoven textile 17"x12"

"Yellow Zebra" 2010 acrylic on handwoven textile 15"x12"

"Happiness by the Pool" 2010 acrylic on handwoven textile 15" x 12"

I still remember last weekend!

Wondercon 2011

This was the first time ever that I’ve gotten a chance to make it to San Francisco’s comic convention since moving here.

I’ve been going to San Diego’s Comic Con for years and have been interested in checking out Wondercon at the Moscone Center South, April 1 to April 3. Although, to be honest Wondercon is nothing compared to the San Diego’s which is the original largest comic book and popular arts convention in the world!

But I’m so glad I got the chance to geek out and attend all 3 days here in San Francisco. It was fun, inspiring, and cute. I’ll definitely attend next year.

Wondercon is all about the endless costumes, fellow comic lovers, and special guests featured in spotlight panels… The greatest comic writers and artists alive today!

I tried to go to as many panels I could. Here’s a preview of the Wondercon trailer that was previewed during the “DC Icons” panel I attended on Sunday.

Friday and Saturday, I walked around with a few of my friends that came to visit from San Diego, also checking out the SF convention for the first time. We spent hours looking through comics, checking out the t-shirts, and seeing a myriad of people dressed up in costumes of all sorts.

video courtesy of http://www.youtube.com/user/MarkDayComedy

The highlight panel of Sunday was a spotlight on Tony Daniel, Batman artist and writer. He spoke about his creative process of both writing and drawing a comic book.

“DC Icons” showcased DC Comics’ top heroes. Artists Tony Daniel and Amy Reeder lead a discussion on the latest Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman news.

During another session, “Drawing DC”, artists Francis Manapul, Amy Reeder, and Jeremy Love all drew on the “Elmo”, a machine that projected their work onto a giant screen. Quite an in your face glimpse of the artistic process!

To top it off, I ended the beautiful night at a great concert with Shigeto, Mount Kimbie, Matthew David, and Blackbird Blackbird at the Mezzanine.

– Rae

Contemporary Textile Art + SF Street Fashion Blogs

Elaine Reichek

Elaine Reichek is a conceptual feminist artist who uses embroidery, fabric, and knits within her artwork. She was featured in the book, “Contemporary Textiles: The Fabric of Fine Art.” She received B.F.A. in Yale and B.A. in Brooklyn College. She is now currently a New York Based Artist.

I choose to feature her this week because I’ve always been inspired and by the topics she expresses through her pieces. And I’m attracted to it’s bright color and rich texture.  Reichek uses mixed media materials such as mesh, organdy in various shades, colored silk threads. She also touches on art history, representation of social contexts, and world culture.

Her famous work:

Native Intelligence 1987-1992 Series

This series represents knit replica’s of natives’ homes. Here, knitting is a metaphor. To knit is to integrate, to unify, to bond, draw together, and heal.

In the public mind, knitting is generally known as a hobby rather than industry. Integrating knitting into contemporary works of art dispels the image of an old woman making a scarf at home.

As an artist, you’ve got to experiment with all materials possible to creates an original piece of art. All her work is done with her hands. It’s raw yet detailed. And took so many hours to make!  Reicheck’s use of textiles, yarn, needlework,  and embroidery has a masculine edge. The beauty and power of feminist art is amplified by it. And our concept of textile art is elevated as well.

Tierra Del Fuegians 1986-1987 Series

Dwellings 1982- 1983 Series

photos courtesy of http://elainereichek.com/
Bonus:

SF Street Fashion

Cool Blogs To Check Out!

http://www.thesfstyle.com/

http://streetfancy.blogspot.com/

http://streetpeeper.com/cities/san-francisco?type=street_peep

~ Rae