|Tiffany E-Ting Wu; OCAD University||| Print ||
Figure1,Beautiful Death.April 2010. cheesecloth, polyester fabric, organza, and cotton. 250 x 200 x 300 cm
When I was a little girl, I was fascinated by the variety of textures of fabric. I loved browsing through racks of clothes with the tips of my fingers to feel the texture of the fabrics. This memory has had a great impact on me and has, inspired me to pursue a career in the textiles. I recently graduated from the Ontario College of Art and Design, where I studied Material Arts and Design, with a specific focus on fibre. My thesis project was a fibre art installation that responds to the glamorized and sensationalized portrayal of death in mass media, for the purpose of entertainment (see figure 1). The concept behind the piece is to play with the paradox between the gruesomeness of murder and the collective fascination in western culture on this morbid subject of death and dying. I used hundreds of handmade fabric flowers to create crime scenes that narrate the numbing effect resulting from the excessive, passive consumption of televised death. Through the fibre medium, the experience is realized in the physical space. For me, the labour-intensive process of sewing individual fabric flowers is paralleled to the desensitization experienced after repeated exposures to death on television. I believe the flowers are a metaphor for the media dramatization and glamorization where “death” is made beautiful or almost “pleasant” to look at.
Figure 2, Flower Noose, April 2009, fabric embellishment, nylon rope and pearls. 55 x 25 x 8 cm
In addition to the installation I created, I also produced several conceptual pieces in my final years of studies. With great interest and passion in different fibre medium and techniques, I explored the unlimited possibilities to illustrate similar commentaries on the representation of death in media (see figure 2). One of my favourite pieces is titled Blood Pool, 2009, a site-specific installation on a staircase (figure 4). The pool of “blood” drips down the stair: it slowly transforms from plainly felted material to an embellished surface, ruffles and needle felting are gradually added, and at the bottom of the stairs, it transforms into beautiful fabric flowers. This installation speaks about the glamorization of death in media as well. My intention is to have the viewers go from both directions of the stairs: going up, one would see what seems beautiful is actually gruesome; going down; one experiences the desensitization of transforming tragedy into a product of entertainment.
Figure 3 Blood Pool, April 2009, wet felting, needle felting, fabric, embellishment and manipulations, (length) 450 cm, (widest part) 25 cm
Figure 4 (top) Hairy Floral Designs: Digital and silk screen prints. September 2009 Figure 5 Art Fabric, digital print. December 2009
I enjoy working with the concept of dichotomy, not only in the form of fibre installation, but also in textile design. Many of my design collections are based on the same theme of my art pieces, but with a twist. I arrange hair into floral shapes as my basic motifs and create beautiful marks with ink spatters (figure 5-6). I believe contrasting elements must co-exist to create meaning in each other, just like how complementary colours look more vibrant to the beholder. I use both digital and manual printing for my designs; they can be used as fashion textiles, garments, as well as wearable art. Like my art installations, the textile designs I create are conceptual but open to interpretation of the viewer and the wearer. I am currently working on a wearable piece that uses original patterns and multiple fibre techniques. In the future, I envision myself producing more works in the textile design field, while continuing the creation of fibre art.
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