Musings on art and life.
Derick Melander builds geometric structures and towers out of second hand, discarded clothing. The configurations are a collection of stories, our stories, as each item of clothing represents an intimate relationship the wearer has built up with that particular garment. The sculptures can typically weigh between five hundred pounds and two tonnes. That’s a lot of second hand gear, and a lot of history. Derick doesn’t just stack and fold the garments by colour though, he actually spends a lot of time designing the layout, and how the layers are going to be built up, even taking into consideration the value of the item, gender, or the order in which they were received.
Once folded and stacked, he has even envisioned how he would like the viewer to become a part of the exhibition, taking the physical proximity and interaction someone might make with the piece, for example, brushing up against the installation while entering a structure. By manipulating the viewer, and ensuring their physical interaction, Derick is allowing the public to add their own layer of history to the piece.
Take the piece Grasp, for example. Of this particular structure, on his website, Derick reveals that the width of the opening is roughly the same as an average person’s shoulders, and so “…as someone passes through the opening (and brushes up against both sides), they complete a circuit with the rest of the clothing.”
Derick’s sculptures are thoughtful, and thought provoking. The 2009 piece titled Into the Fold was created using clothing on loan from the textile recycling company Wearable Collections, 3 615 pounds worth. The resulting 5 x 7 foot cube was created on the steps of the Brooklyn Borough Hall. This was a physical demonstration of the amount of clothing waste generated by New Yorkers every five minutes. Incredible, really.
Silence was a piece installed in the doorway of an unoccupied 19th century convent. This piece offers a look at Derick’s mixed personal feelings towards religion. He describes a history of being discriminated against for being gay, and the generous offering of a space in which to exhibit. On this piece Derick states “In the context of this heavily symbolic space, silence refers to self-oppression, to a spiritual vow of silence and also to the fact that these works absorb sound.”
The 2008 piece, The Ocean is the Underlying Basis for Every Wave, is a rather large “S” shaped installation made from 2 908 garments, weighing 1 859 pounds, and sorted by colour value. Derick’s art conjures feelings of social responsibility and awe, in my opinion that makes him a wonderfully sensitive and remarkable artist.
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