5 Things to Know About Nick Cave's Sound Suits at the IMA
It stands alone in the center of a large white room with 20-foot ceilings.
"Commanding," one visiting patron declared.
And command it does.
Created by world-renowned contemporary arts and fashion designer Nick Cave, Soundsuit is a sculpture covered in an elaborate and colorful collection of items.
Cave, a professor of fashion design at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, designed the suits with an element of disguise in mind. His first Soundsuit was created after the killing of Rodney King.
"I started thinking about the role of identity, being racial-profiled, feeling devalued, less than, dismissed," reads a portion of a quote by Cave on the wall in the exhibit at theIndianapolis Museum of Art. It was the identity-altering powers of the art that most appealed to Cave, who creates the sculptures based on the scale of his body. The "second skin" as he calls it, conceals race, gender and class, forcing the viewer to look without judgment.
Acquired by the IMA in the fall of 2013, the Soundsuit was the centerpiece of the museum's 2014 New Year's Eve party, which partially paid for the complex work of art.
"It's beautiful outside, but it's deeper, more meaningful — how an artist can cross boundaries; it's innovation and newness," said Niloo Paydar, curator of fashion and textiles at the museum. "It's something you have to see in person."
Before you go, here are five things to know about Nick Cave's Soundsuit.
1. While some Soundsuits can be worn and are created with performance in mind, this particular piece, standing 11 feet tall, is for display only, due to its construction.
2. It was transported to the museum in one piece. A few figurines and strands of beads were dislodged in travel, but a member of Cave's team followed to put the piece back in its proper condition.
3. Many of the figurines, crocheted doilies and other embellishments were picked up at thrift shops and flea markets. A welder created the headpiece, while Cave's team constructed the bodysuit, made of sweaters and stitched tightly on the mannequin.
4. Cave's first Soundsuit was made of "discarded" and "insignificant" twigs he found in Chicago's Grant Park.
5. There have been more than 100 Soundsuits, and none is the same, but all include a cornucopia of found objects, from beads and feathers, to stuffed animals and fake flowers, even dyed human hair.
Call Star reporter Leslie Bailey at (317) 444-6094. Follow her on Twitter: @Lesalina