Monday, October 04, 2010

Sweaterman @ Otis

On Saturday Larry and I went to the opening of make:craft at Otis College of Art and Design near LAX. I was interested in going because I'd heard that Sweaterman (Mark Newport) was going to be there.

Ellen and Sweaterman @ Otis

Here is Sweaterman's statement about his work:

These characters are childhood memories of the ultimate man – the Dad every boy wants, the man every boy wants to grow up to be. My hand knit acrylic re-creations of these heroes’ costumes combine their heroic, protective, ultra masculine, yet vulnerable personas with the protective gestures of my mother – hand knit acrylic sweaters meant to keep me safe from New England winters. The costumes are life-size, my size, wearable objects that hang limply on hangers challenging the standard muscular form of the hero and offering the space for someone to imagine themselves wearing the costume, becoming the hero. They become the uniforms I can wear to protect my family from the threats (bullies, murderers, terrorists, pedophiles, and fanatical messianic characters) we are told surround us.

The Sweatermen, Every-Any-No Man, and Bobbleman are heroes of my own invention. They push the image of the hero by highlighting knitting materials, textures, and traditions (cables and the use of “ends” to make a sweater) in the form of the costume. Some of the color and texture choices are based on the sweaters my mother made, her love of cables and her color choices. In these I work to forge the link between childhood experience and an adult understanding of protection, masculinity, and heroism.

Performances, prints, and photographs are my opportunity to expand the narratives the suits suggest to me. While earlier works in print and photography focused on the hero in the costume, where and how he functions, these pieces start to explore the alter ego within the costume and the connotations of knitting in relation to various roles and activities. Knitting remains the questionable activity for the protagonist while costumes change to more socially accepted garb. In each scenario the knitting seems out of place or defensive. Is the man in “Pick-Up” attracting or repelling the woman speaking to him with his knitting? How do these different stereotypes of men relate to an activity like knitting?

SweaterMan was just sitting in a chair, calmly knitting, while the rest of the gallery buzzed around him. He wouldn't speak, but he gave me this note:
"I owe you one protective gesture." Sweaterman 10/2/2010
I really wanted to discuss the intricate cable pattern in the suit he was wearing. Sweaterman only wanted to knit.
I understand.

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At 3:53 PM PDT, Blogger Laurie Ann said...

I'm a little creeped out by the full-hooded sweater suit...and you know how much a love a good balaclava.

At 4:17 PM PDT, Anonymous Jo Anne said...

Wow, not sure what else to say! Pretty intense for sure. And how did it happen that you got the note??

At 5:42 PM PDT, Blogger gale (she shoots sheep shots) said...

wow, you talked to sweaterman! I have to join those who find something creepy about the covered mouth aspect.And knowing he doesn't speak just adds to it. Very interesting day & exhibit, for sure.
(ps your shawl looks great on you!)

At 8:11 PM PDT, Anonymous Pamela said...

So what size needles was he knitting with, to be able to knit in those big, knitted gloves?

At 8:53 PM PDT, Blogger Jean said...

I was just catching up on my blog reading and I love your approach. It's well written and interesting - has that certain je ne sais quoi. Wish I could make it to the knit group this weekend, but my dear Mr. Wooster had a tumor removed and that is the day I take him to the vet to get the stitches removed. Til next month.

At 7:07 AM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

absolutely LOVE this photo, check out anonymous gal on the right of the pix, sneekin' a look like she's not sure she should....LOL.
and you look GREAT ! love the shoes shawl purse. i'm sure your protective gesture will come in handy.

mym on Ravelry

At 8:50 AM PDT, Blogger Aunt Snow said...

Amazing! Love the last one with the french knots (or whatever that stitch is called).


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