MADE BY LEA
wear / where
While folding laundry a few years ago, I playfully imagined that I was actually folding maps of all the places around the world where my garments were made. China, Mexico, Cambodia, the United States. It was a long and diverse list of places with vast open spaces, winding mountain roads, and dense urban tangles of streets and highways. It’s strange to imagine that many of the things we own, something as simple as a shirt even, have traveled from places we’ve never visited.
This contemplative moment inspired me to make a reproduction of my favorite shirt by cutting actual paper maps into thin 1/4″ wide strips, which were then woven together by hand. I put it on and while a bit stiff, it actually fit pretty good! Here’s how it turned out…
wear / where has been exhibited at:
- The 2010 Surface Design Association Conference (San Francisco, CA)
- Highways in (Los Angeles, CA)
- Carnegie Art Center (Walla Walla, WA)
- City/Space @ Oaklandish (Oakland, CA)
The geographies of production are quite complicated, connecting diverse landscapes and peoples in ways that are mostly hidden and unacknowledged. This shirt of woven of maps invites us to consider these relationships and our place within this convoluted system of global trade. Should we try to build some small essence of a particular place into our goods? How can we better appreciate and respect the people and places that are the source of the things we wear every day?
As a follow-on project, you can make your own miniature map shirts! Click the image below for an easy to follow origami pattern and then use any old (and interesting!) map for paper. You can even make a mini-clothesline collection like the one below.
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.