SAIC Professor defies genres and bridges fashion, sculpture, performance, sound, and fiber art.
Rafia swishes and rustles to the pulsating beat of stomping feet. A troupe of elaborately adorned dancers weave a turning pattern in a spectacular performance of texture, sound, music, and motion. People stare in awe at Nick Cave’s Soundsuits, a work that defies genres and bridges fashion, sculpture, performance, sound, and fiber art.
Cave is a Professor in SAIC’s Department of Fashion Design. He studied fiber textiles and trained with renowned choreographer Alvin Ailey. Cave created his first Soundsuit out of twigs, a sculptural response to the Rodney King beating of 1991. Reusing disregarded materials to confront issues of injustice, Cave realized the suit needed to be worn in order to see and hear its full potential. Today he uses an array of colorful, secondhand materials, from beads, sequins, human hair, and bells to buttons, toys, feathers, and tinsel. Dazzling, yet undoubtedly bizarre, these anthropomorphic forms arrest the senses. When activated, the sculptural suits enter realms of modern dance, performance art, musical procession, flash mob choreography, and even ceremonial ritual.
Cave has exhibited his Soundsuits in museums and galleries around the world and staged public performances at New York City’s Grand Central Station and SAIC’s THE WALK 2014 in Millennium Park. As a Professor in SAIC’s Fashion Design program, Cave pushes his students to blur boundaries and to refashion art and design into Beautiful/Work.