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She was No Angel, Despite the Wings

Susan Avishai's avatar Susan Avishai

"She was No Angel, Despite the Wings" is an installation made entirely from hand-cut men’s dress shirts. My work is an attempt to raise awareness about our enormous problem of textile waste. We buy too much from companies that manufacture garments in the Far East, that don’t pay living wages to their seamstresses, and use cheap fabric with knock-off design. Then we wear our clothing only briefly (on average 7 times). Although 95% of it is recyclable, 85% of our discarded clothes end up in landfill: 80 pounds per person, per year: enough to build a solid structure as wide and as tall as The Big House (Michigan Stadium seats 100,000 people), three times over! Industrial recycling is one solution. But at the point I insert myself, the clothing can be seen differently, turned around, looked at anew. I make fibre sculptures that speak to our aesthetics even though they are made of the stuff we throw away. These shirt backs are modular, if you will, and have been put together as a Christmas tree for a museum in Toronto, and a bride in a solo show, as shown above. But this angel is my favourite iteration. We often connect with material on a deeper level when we recognize its previous life or its inherent history. Maybe not everyone will be creating fibre hangings from their cast-off jeans, but I believe artists can show the way, reclaiming what was headed for the ignoble dump with innovation, whimsy, and dignity, as Art.

Entry Details
  • Art form: Installation
  • Depth: 3'
  • Medium: Fibre
  • Width: ~6.5'
  • Year created: 2017
  • Height: ~15'