NICK CAVE, SOUND SUITS & “MORE IS MORE”

Have you heard about the Sound Suits that have invaded Seattle?  

If you’ve been following me on Facebook, or Twitter, you’ve likely seen some of my posts or tweets, referencing the artist Nick Cave and his amazing Sound Suits, currently on view at the Seattle Art Museum in an exhibit titled:

“Meet Me At The Center of the Earth”.

As a museum Docent, I’m lucky enough to be touring this show. Yesterday, I had the pleasure of leading 2nd & 6th Graders through the exhibit, inviting them to let their imaginations soar as we explored this strange new world.

So – what exactly IS a Sound Suit?

According to the artist, Nick Cave, the first Sound Suit was born when he was sitting on a park bench, and noticed a twig lying on the ground. That single twig was the spark for his future creations.

With a background in fashion and design, and the Rodney King incident fresh in his mind, he had the idea to create a protective garment.

So, the single twig became a mountain of twigs that were painstakingly cut to size, pierced at one end, and sewn onto cloth. The result was a pair of pants and a shirt, made to fit the artist.

It was then he realized he’d basically created a suit.

He slipped it on – carefully, I presume, since it was made of twigs – and when he started to move, he noticed the twigs made a sound.

It was a happy accident, yet the Sound Suit had been born.

After that, it seems there has been no end to exploring many different materials and objects found at flea markets, and elsewhere.  Indeed, to create these suits, the artist has used an infinite variety of found objects – hair, buttons, sweaters, crocheted purses and rugs, lots of glittery sequins and plenty more.

Exploring the exhibit with school children, it’s great fun to see how many different items one can spot, not to mention the unusual shapes and bold colors. Part moveable sculpture, part costume, and part fantasy – this is art that can be interpreted any way you choose.

A giant, welcoming Bear is made out of striped sweaters, while another Sound Suit holds a precarious balance of porcelain birds, or flowers in an imaginary garden.

Others are made from a collection of Beanie Babies and stuffed toys, a mountain of colorful pipe cleaners, rolled up socks and – of course –voluminous amounts of buttons and twigs.

In the artists’ own words:  “More Is More”

It takes the idea of re-purposing to a whole new level!

Then there are the ‘Invasions’ – where performers don these amazing Suits, in riotous colors, and pop up in various locations around town.

Passersby stare in awe and amazement, not quite sure what to make of the live performance, which lasts just a few minutes.

Here’s the thing:

If you were to wear one of these Suits, you would become nameless. No-one could see your face, which means you’d be unrecognizable.

Think of the freedom that brings!

You can prance about, fully captured in the moment and completely caught up in your ‘inner child’, as it were.

Totally anonymous.

And in that moment, ask yourself,:  “Who Am I?”