Artist Proposes Fabric House Coat For St. Louis

Midwest
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
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Rendering showing proposed House Coat installation in St. Louis (Courtesy Leeza Meksin)

Rendering showing proposed House Coat installation in St. Louis (Courtesy Leeza Meksin)

Brooklyn-based artist Leeza Meksin plans to give an historic brick structure in St. Louis a new skin – or rather a new set of clothes.  House Coat proposes wrapping over 800 yards of spandex around the two-story building, complete with stylized “corset-like fixtures in the back, weights, [and] leather.”

St. Louis structure to receive a House Coat (Courtesy Leeza Meksin)

St. Louis structure to receive a House Coat (Courtesy Leeza Meksin)

Several unique challenges arise when trying to clothe something as large as a building.  Meksin says ready-made patterns for such a House Coat tend to be scarce, but instead is spending two months preparing the bespoke garment in her Brooklyn studio.  She chose an oversized print – large gold chains on semi-transparent white field – to relate back to the building’s scale.

The logic behind this pattern is multifold: (1) Cosign Projects of WUSTL’s Art Program is located in a depressed area of St. Louis, with multiple boarded-up houses surrounding it; (2) The gold on white motif makes frequent appearances in hip hop and pop culture as a sign of wealth and fabulousness; (3) The house, wrapped in gold chains, will flaunt itself to locals, while simultaneously finding itself bound and gagged by its own design.

Detail of fabric pattern (Courtesy Leeza Meksin)

Detail of fabric pattern (Courtesy Leeza Meksin)

Meksin is inspired by the fluid elegance of fabric installations by artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude but diverges as her preferred medium of stretch fabrics evokes the more modern dress of “drag queens and super heroes.”

HOUSE COAT, as the pun implies, refers both to the literal fact of the house getting a new covering (a face lift of sorts) as well as to the garment often worn by people indoors (i.e. the outfit that is specifically designed for a private sphere and not permitted an exterior use).

St. Louis structure to receive a House Coat (Courtesy Leeza Meksin)

St. Louis structure to receive a House Coat (Courtesy Leeza Meksin)

The installation will take place in Spring 2011 during the Southern Graphics Council International Conference with support from Washington University in St. Louis. While much of the $13,000 budget has been raised, Meksin has established a Kickstarter campaign to finish raising funds.

Via Lost at E Minor.

10 Responses to “Artist Proposes Fabric House Coat For St. Louis”

  1. Lauren says:

    Check out the website for this gallery space in St. Louis
    http://www.cosignprojects.net

  2. Phil says:

    Why is this a good idea? I am a big supporter of public art that enhances community environments, tells local stories, creates a local sense of place, and showcases local creativity, especially in underserved neighborhoods. This project does none of those things. If it is located in a lower-income, predominantly African American community, as this article seems to infer, it is a lost opportunity and a waste of resources. Go wrap a wealthy suburban house in gold chains or pearl earrings. Don’t the wealthy also “flaunt themselves to locals, while simultaneously finding themselves bound and gagged?” The concept would be quite similar, but you wouldn’t be adding an eyesore to a community streetscape that is in need of positive investment and beautification. This is another great example of artists/academics being woefully out of touch with community realities. Use your creativity to enhance underserved communities instead of making a statement about the ills that you perceive. if you took some time to get to know the community, you could instead use your creativity to celebrate the positive aspects of the community. $13,000 could be used to create an entire summer of art and creativity classes for youth in the community, culminating in a community installation created by and for the community. Use the money to be a part of the solution, instead of showcasing what you perceive to be the problem.

  3. Donna says:

    I’m with Phil. What a waste of money that could be used to engage the community in making their own art.

  4. Sara says:

    There are different ways to try to help. I don’t think that it makes sense to deny a neighborhood access to a certain type of art because they could use other kinds of help as well. As far as whether this is an eyesore… that is a matter of opinion… I think it is very cool and lovely. Maybe it will inspire people in the neighborhood to pursue their own passions, envision their own projects.
    Anyway, what is the harm? The money is not being lifted from the community and assigned to project… it was donated by people excited by the project (I mean, that’s how kickstarter works…)

  5. Mark Reed says:

    this might be considered good art had it not been based on the false assumptions of a white girl from the east coast about a neighborhood, a community and race and class in the Midwest None of which she obviously took the time to explore or learn anything about. Nor did she bother to even get permission of the owner of the house prior to the installation.

    Put your toe into real life and stop trying to make art based on what you think it is!

  6. thanks for your thoughts says:

    first of all, i’m no white girl – if you’re going to go there, do some research first.

    second, my family immigrated to Columbus, Ohio, 22 years ago, and still live there!
    I lived in Columbus from 1989 to 1996, and then in Chicago for 9 years in a neighborhood very similar to Benton Park, MO. I have deep ties to the Midwest, a region I love and admire. So please stop making assumptions about my background and heritage – that’s not what’s important here.

  7. leeza meksin says:

    first of all, i’m no white girl – if you’re going to go there, do some research first.

    second, my family immigrated to Columbus, Ohio, 22 years ago, and still live there!
    I lived in Columbus from 1989 to 1996, and then in Chicago for 9 years in a neighborhood very similar to Benton Park, MO. I have deep ties to the Midwest, a region I love and admire. So please stop making assumptions about my background and heritage – that’s not what’s important here.

  8. STLifer says:

    Hey Mark — put YOUR toe into real life and stop trying to comment on stories you know nothing about !

  9. Russ Klettke says:

    I too am troubled by the use of superficial, aspirational symbols. While it might be high irony to suggest the fleeting nature and ephemeral value of adornment, it just seems like something more respectful and constructive should be done. I am a volunteer in a program that brings smart green infrastructure — rain gardens, sustainable gardens, etc. — to communities throughout Chicago. I can assure you there are many people in lower-income communities who are working to bring nature into their environment as a long-term building exercise. Spending money on such temporary artifice, one that mocks environmental values, would be offensive to them.

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