MADE BY LEA
One afternoon in 2005, I slipped into a mall in Santa Rosa, CA with my spinning wheel and spun yarn in front of an Old Navy store. It wasn’t a protest per se, nor was I making any particular statement. It just seemed like an interesting – and possibly even important – thing to do.
Quite a few people stopped to watch and quite a few others walked right by without seeming to notice anything unusual. I didn’t say much. Instead, I tried to be keenly aware of the facial expressions and reactions of those that did take an interest in what I was doing. I was simply making yarn – by hand and out of raw materials – in front of a brand that has mastered the global system of mass-produced clothing.
I’m not sure how many passers-by even made the connection between my spinning and the clothes in the window behind me. One person asked if I was part of the local historical society. Nope! But I do believe there is an important role for this type of subtle, non-confrontational demonstration. When was the last time you went to the mall and saw something that made you stop and think?
After about an hour of spinning, the mall security guard came and asked me to leave. When I asked him why, he said, “because this is private property” and “you are making something.” Maybe what he really wanted to say was, “feel free to buy whatever you want, but please don’t make anything!”
Changing Clothes is an ongoing project that investigates the politics and ecology of clothes through a series of sculptures, collaborations, and public participations that explore the everday world of producing, wearing, and discarding clothes.