Spark magazine’s Spring Issue

Happy Thursday, fashion fiends!

As writing director of Spark magazine, I simply wished to share our latest issue released on March 21. For those of you who haven’t heard of Spark, it’s a student-run fashion publication at The University of Texas at Austin. Although my main responsibilities include editing reporters’ work, I compose features as well. While flipping through the digital pages with the clicks of your mouse, look out for my piece on Nick Cave, an accomplished artist, dancer and fashion designer extraordinaire. To see the magazine and articles about UT senior fashion designers, best-dressed musicals and more, click here. You won’t regret it!

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The opening pages to my feature on Nick Cave. Courtesy of Spark magazine.

I truly enjoyed interviewing the exhibition’s curator, Andrea Mellard, to explore Cave’s masterpieces named “Soundsuits.” Learn more about these mysterious and intriguing livable artwork and Cave’s role in the fashion world only in Spark.

The exhibit, titled “Nick Cave: Hiding in Plain Sight,” took place at AMOA-Arthouse’s The Jones Center from Sept. 29, 2012-Feb. 24, 2013. Mellard began planning the exhibition during the summer of 2011.

“They spring from the imagination,” Mellard said of the suits. “They come from a world of fantasy and dreams, and they’re also fantastic in their ‘more is more’ aesthetic. Cave kind of works at the intersection of art media…sitting here in the gallery we’re surrounding by what you’d call sculptures, but when Cave or dancers put them on they then become fashion, wearable works of art – costumes. If they dance in them and make them move, they can become instruments of sound. As an artist, he occupies a rich interesting place in between sculpture, fashion, performance and dance.”

“‘Soundsuit’ is an odd name as in the gallery they are still and quiet,” Mellard continued. “But Cave encourages you to imagine if you get inside of this, how would you need to move to make sound and what sounds would these materials make.”

Cave constructed his first “Soundsuit” in response to Rodney King’s beating in 1991. After a jury acquitted police officers charged with assaulting King, an African-American man who was on parole for robbery, with excessive force and a deadly weapon following a high-speed car chase, racial tensions intensified throughout the United States. A year later, the Los Angeles race riots ensued.

Chants and cries pervaded the six-day riot condemning the police’s acquittals. After several burglaries, arson cases and assaults committed during the riots, 53 people died, and thousands were injured. The situation led Cave to creating art – art that produced sounds different from police officers’ yells and protestors’ shrieks of pain.

In 1992, Cave thought about what kind of armor an African-American man might need while living in the city to hide and protect himself from future attacks induced by racist sentiments. As he sat in a park, he picked up twigs that inspired him to assemble his first suit of armor – a vest and a pair of pants – that camouflaged the wearer like a soldier in battle.

From then on, he continued assembling these whimsical works of wearable art.

“I think he likes to imagine a world where he wouldn’t be defined as a black male or a gay male, but that there might be categories beyond that or no categories at all,” Mellard said. “That there’s room for these creatures that have sprung from our imagination – that we could be who we are in our dreams and not in our physical bodies.”

“[The suit] erases your perceptions of the outside world, but it also erases your identity – or, the outside world’s perception of you,” Mellard continued. “It’s like a second skin, and that can be unnerving to some people. There’s an element of submission of having to let the suit take over and listening to the suit, and how it wants to move because different materials play in different ways.

Nicole Bernard, an advertising student at The University of Texas at Austin, visited the exhibit in November.

“I actually work right next to the museum so I would see it every day as I walked to work, and I thought it was the most awesome-looking thing,” Bernard said. “I’m really into graphic art, and they looked like futuristic cartoon characters. But when you look at their story and what’s behind it, they seem so much cooler.”

“It’s amazing that the pieces are visually striking, and that he was interested in the sounds they make,” Bernard continued. “I like the combination of the sounds, visuals and performance aspects. I think the fact they have layers is amazing, and being able to watch a film about them and see them in action was great.”

If you fancy the interviews and photos in this post, go ahead and like Spark on Facebook for more stylish updates from Austin by students after sifting through the spring issue. Enjoy!

Yours truly,

Jonathan

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