Visible Mending as Art + Disruption

An exploration into visibly mending damaged garments, looking at the ways this craft can be art and an act of subversion in our consumer-driven world.

visible mending
Mend with wisdom, mend with love. It will mend the earth at the same time.   — Yoko Ono

This project serves as the research phase in a larger plan to build artistic works relating to textile waste and consumer habits. In this early stage, I am working on 10 pieces of visibly mended clothing with the objective of having these items be viewed both as art and as commentary. Tied into this project, I will coordinate a repair rendezvous where anyone is welcome to bring a damaged piece of clothing to the event and either receive help in making the repair or learn to do repairs themselves. I'm enlisting the expertise of learned menders, patchers, and darners to help with the public workshop. 

I will employ a variety of mending techniques (sashimi, born, darning, patching, embroidery, needle weaving, etc) as I research the history of repair techniques and the current trend in visible mending. I hope to raise interest locally in repair and reuse of clothing, encourage people to reconsider their new purchases, to celebrate the skills of long-time menders and darners from our community and facilitate their sharing these skills with the next generations. And ultimately, I'd like to help decrease the amount of clothing waste that ends up in landfills. By visibly mending, rather than simply mending, repairers can start a conversation with their patch or their sashiko patterning, leading others to consider their own habits of consumption and waste. 

Throughout the project I will be photographically documenting the before and after of repaired items, the people involved in teaching and learning about mending, and the process involved. I envision showing the mended pieces in an exhibition setting alongside photo documentation. 

Inspirations for this project came from my grandmother and my mother (my first mending instructors and mentors); from textile artists such as Celia Pym, Bridget Harvey, Tom van Deijnen, The Far Woods, and Katrina Rodabaugh; and from socially and environmentally driven companies like The Renewal Workshop and Patagonia's Worn Wear clothing repair program. 

Funded in part by Columbia Kootenay Cultural Alliance.