The Shrine of Looms is an immersive installation concept designed to promote the utilization of waste and remnant textiles. The Shrine of Looms draws on the universally familiar imagery of shrines, prayer flags, and the near-worldwide custom of tying a ribbon or cloth to a tree to make a wish or prayer. Hundreds of long strips of painted cloth (sustainably sourced from a vendor dealing in remnant and waste textiles, hand painted by the artist) are suspended in the air. Visitors to the installation are invited to enter, walk among the flags, and see each unique piece. If they find one that resonates with them, the piece will be cut down - as long as they promise to find a way to keep the piece in use and out of the landfill. The goal is for there to be no pieces left by the end of the event.
This concept is inspired directly by the immense amount of textile waste that is dumped out into the world every day. The figures vary, but it is estimated that up to 92 tons of textile waste is produced each year. The majority of the textiles we use are synthetic (approx 60%); they will not break down or biodegrade. Heavily polluting chemicals are used in the printing and dyeing processes of the manufacture. Workers are underpaid and abused at every stage of the process. And, all of that, just for the textile products to be barely used, or not used at all - plenty of clothing you'll find at the landfills will still have their tags. It's a baffling amount of textile waste.
Textiles used to be so central to the human existence, that a large amount of words and phrases used in the English language come from the textile manufacturing process. These linguistic ghosts such as "on tenterhooks" or "spinning a yarn" haunt our language, showing just how time-consuming and important the making of clothing and textiles was to our ancestors. It was skilled labor and fabrics were treasured and taken care of for generations.
With Shrine of Looms, I want to bring imagery to encourage us to reconnect with respecting and treasuring fabrics. The tradition of tying a ribbon or cloth to a tree to make a wish, for example, can be found in Scotland, Russia, Georgia, China, Japan, and even in some of the indigenous cultures of the American continent. Prayer flags are also a common image throughout many cultures. Now, we often feel that textiles are effortless - we can go and get any color, any material, any time, from the store. We do not treasure the fabrics, and we do not treat them as a precious resource. With Shrine of Looms, I hope to take a small step towards changing this.