Enter the Inviting World of Nick CaveJune 3rd, 2011 | Posted by in Uncategorized
Nick Cave (not the same Nick Cave who is an Australian musician and author, best known for his work with the Bad Seeds) has created something spectacular with his traveling exhibit, Meet Me at the Center of the Earth, currently on display at the Seattle Art Museum. Blending the worlds of installation art and performance, his elaborate Soundsuits (named for the noises they make when worn) are described by the show’s curator as ”multi-layered, mixed media, wearable sculptures.” Although visually stimulating in their own right, it is when worn, as seen in various video footage throughout the exhibit, that they truly come alive.
Cave, who trained with Alvin Ailey before studying at the Cranbrook Academy of Art, utilizes both his background in dance and his gift for visual art in Meet Me at the Center of the Earth. His Soundsuits are constructed of old sweaters, buttons, spinning tops and even human hair. Each one displays the artist’s great interest in fabrics and textures and his ability to see beyond an object’s original purpose. One suit is composed entirely of floppy straw hats. Another is a towering beast of tiny, carefully placed twigs. Each of the approximately forty suits on display at SAM has great personality and all warrant a closer look. Although the curation was tricky (I found myself exiting through the entrance), the museum’s stark space works well with these truly exuberant works.
Cave pushes the boundaries of what is expected of visual artists by taking his fabric sculptures to the public – literally. Video footage within the exhibit shows pedestrians weaving amongst colorful creatures as they joyously dance across streets, sidewalks and parks. The pairing of the colorful, novel costumes and bold dancing truly is something to see. Cave’s background in dance is apparent, as the suits seem absolutely made to move; brightly dyed hair and fabric fly through the air in various urban settings. This level of interaction amongst avenues within the art world is unusual, but to take something this lively into a public forum is something truly rare and, most importantly, exciting.
Nick Cave’s exhibit also presents works that can be appreciated by art-lovers and novices alike. During my visit, children were as entranced by the colorful creatures as the adult patrons were. Exhibits such as this are vital for the success of museums and galleries and SAM isn’t missing a beat, including an entire web page on the Meet Me at the Center of the Earth website for educators to bring Nick Cave’s art into school’s curriculum.
Nick Cave presents something genuinely new and exciting with Meet Me at the Center of the Earth. His appreciation of multiple artistic outlets is seen clearly within his wearable artworks and his skill is apparent in each of his outrageous Soundsuits. I look forward to seeing where this great talent goes next. Meet Me at the Center of the Earth at the Seattle Art Museum closes on June 5th. Will you be visiting Cave’s magical Soundsuits before then? For those familiar with his works, do you agree with my enthusiasm? What do you think of this latest exhibition?