Vicki Clough Curates

Musings on art and life.

Derick Melander- communicating the emotional resonance of second hand clothing

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.”

Grasp, 2005

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.

You can view Derick’s work on his website , or for more up to date images and news, on his Tumblr page.

The Ocean is the Underlying Basis for Every Wave, interior, light side.

The Ocean is the Underlying Basis for Every Wave, exterior dark side.


6 comments on “Derick Melander- communicating the emotional resonance of second hand clothing

  1. theimaginationmuscle
    December 26, 2012

    Great work!

  2. lista de emails
    December 28, 2012

    simply, admirable what you have done here. it is pleasing to look you express from the heart. remarkable post and will look forward to your future update. de emails

  3. Regina Jestrow
    January 12, 2013

    Reblogged this on Regina Jestrow.

  4. artistatexit0
    February 16, 2013

    Very evocative work…like the closet installation the most. Thanks for posting this.

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This entry was posted on December 26, 2012 by in Art, Curatorial Practice, Recycled Art, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , .
Vicki Clough

Vicki Clough

Vicki is an independent curator and craftsperson with a focus on socially engaged and participatory art and events. In January 2016 she helped launch Reconstructing Resilience, a research and curatorial project that explored various forms of sustainable practice. As a freelance curator she has worked with the Riverdale Hub, Myseum of Totonto/Art Spin and was the Curatorial Director of Figment Toronto from 2014 to 2017. She has also co-curated exhibitions including JAYU's iAM photography project (2016 & 2017), Move to Stillness, for the Harbourfront Centre's Kick Up Your Heels Festival (2015), The Duel, AGO First Thursdays (2014), and What Are You Made Of? OCAD U Graduate Gallery (2013). She initiated the Toronto based workshop model and website Polymers in Action: Socially Engaged Art and the Environment as part of her studies at OCAD University, where she obtained her Master of Fine Arts degree in Criticism and Curatorial Practice. She publishes on anything that interests her deeply and moves her to the point of lengthy verbal expression.

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