Soundsuits are literally art come to life – alien life that is. Soundsuits are sculptural costumes often made from found and discarded things. Bits of fabric, buttons, beads, feathers, twigs, dyed human hair,and the odd object or toy all come together in fantastic whimsical and other-worldly wearable art that resembles something tribal, childlike, and alien all at the same time. They are sometimes shown in static form as an installation at a gallery or museum, but are most astonishing when they are worn by dancers where they shimmy and shake, twirl, dance, and jump to life right in front of you. The costumes posses a marvelous complex naivety that is joyous and celebratory , confrontational and nonsensical. They are the unique work of conceptual and visual artist, sculptor , designer, dancer, and performer Nick Cave.
Nick Cave was born in central Missouri and was one of six brothers who were raised by a single Mother of modest means. As clothes were passed down to him from his older brothers he felt the need to personalize them to make them his own. Because of this he learned how to sew and he began to transform things. As a further example of self expression he had a fascination for collecting found objects. He felt that these things represented many people who were marginalized or discarded by their circumstances, race, or beliefs. He began to collect these odd items mostly because they were available in his modest environment but also because they held a special or unique quality each with a story all their own. Buttons, beads. branches, bits of fabric, fake fur, furniture, toys, pieces of porcelain, dyed human hair, in fact almost any object was collected and transformed into the magical, whimsical artwork that now sits in many museums and galleries.
Mr. Cave graduated from Kansas City Art Institute in 1982. During this period he also studied dance with the Alvin Alley program and performed with the company in Kansas as well as New York. Cave went on to get his Master’s Degree from Cranbrook Academy and is currently the Director of the graduate fashion program at the School of Art Institute of Chicago. His work has been exhibited in galleries and museums throughout the US and around the world. He is currently represented in an exhibit titled Soundsuits at the Jack Shainman Gallery in Chicago.
Following are images from the Soundsuits exhibit with photos courtesy of the Jack Shainman Gallery. Also included are videos of the Sundsuits in motion as well as videos of Nick Cave describing his work and it’s meaning.