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Mother Earth’s gowns

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Kendall College ArtPrize exhibit features felt gowns employing earth motifs and innovative approaches to conventional techniques.
Mother Earth Horst's 2011ArtPrize exhibit at KCAD

Mother Earth Horst's 2011ArtPrize exhibit at KCAD /Audrey Schultz

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Tradition meets with innovation

Je’siq and Thomas Horst's Mother Earth showcases innovative felting and dying techniques to produce fantastic sculptural garments.

You may view and purchase Horst’s work on the website.

See the work in Kendall galleries.


Mother Earth Horst's 2011 ArtPrize exhibit at KCAD

Mother Earth Horst's 2011 ArtPrize exhibit at KCAD /Audrey Schultz

By Audrey Schultz, Hope College student

Mother Earth is an installation featuring a collection of felted dresses which has drawn a lot of attention among the works featured at the KCAD venue.   

Each garment employs form, color, and accessories to representing a particular biome i.e., the ocean, freshwater, the rain forest, jungles, deserts, savannah, and tundras. The dresses expand around the room, onto the walls, and up to the ceiling, completely enveloping the viewer. Mother Earth interrupts real life, conflating as it does elements that are familiar, with contexts that are new.  

More remarkable than the motifs are the processes involved. The collaborators are Je’siq Horst (aka, Jessica Horst) and Thomas Horst, who developed a new variation on the ancient technique of felting which takes as much as 95% less time to produce.

Felting involves dampening layers of animal fibers, which are pressed together. It is a process to create textiles without a loom. The duo has taken this one step further to create garments that do not require sewing, instead these dresses are sculpted for the body. Some appear supple and fluffy, yet delicate--others had pieces of felt extending off, creating flowing shapes exaggerating the biome motif. Even the dying technique is unique, with each garment’s colors coming from that one bath of color, like an upscale organic tie-dye effect.

Horst's inginuity has gained some international recognition, and the designs have been featured in runway shows, galleries and publications.

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