We were on a vacation at Big Bend National Park with the kids, (aw, look how cute they are!) and I was wearing this T-shirt that said Free Your Mind on the back. BTW, that's the Rio Grande and that's Mexico on the other side. It doesn't need a wall blocking this fabulous view.
That shirt got pretty ragged and old but just when I was ready to throw it away my daughter took it over in 2006 when she started art school at Texas Tech. Four years later it was a sad little paint and clay spattered shirt with holes everywhere, but Naomi was now wearing it as a night shirt so every time it went through the wash it got a little more raggedy and sad. I liked the words on it, though, so I could never bear to toss it in the trash.
Last year our fiber arts group, the Caprock Art Quilters, began planning a big exhibit at the Buddy Holly Center. We wanted a theme to tie everything together so we came up with the idea if recycling and upcycling, using non-traditional fabrics and materials to create an art statement. For some reason I was instantly inspired. I took that pitiful, threadbare T-shirt out of the drawer it was lingering in and came up with my idea: The T-shirt That Went to Art School. T-shirts are long lasting clothing that are a staple in nearly every wardrobe, and because of that they are associated with memories, with moments in our lives, and with a reputation for endurance. (My oldest T-shirt is from 1973). Not only that but both my daughter and I had shared it doing what we do best: being creative.
I began by cutting the front of the T-shirt apart from the back and stitching it down onto a piece of navy blue linen. I cut the slogan from the back and stitched it vertically to the side of the front. Then in true boho, shabby chic tradition I began embellishing it with embroidery. It recalled my college days when we used to embroider flowers and symbols over the holes in our blue jeans. The whole concept of upcycling is to add onto, embellish, or deconstruct an item in such away that it becomes more valuable or interesting than its original state. It is transformed into something greater than the sum of its parts.
Added an old paint brush and scraps of kantha cloth.
The moon was a lino print I carved, then I scanned and uploaded the printed image into my computer and printed it out onto sheer organza, which I placed over the printed message on the front of the shirt: "write poetry, read philosophy, study art"
I stretched the whole thing over a canvas to give it artistic cred, plus make it easier to hang. I can't tell if it's just a big, hot, hippie mess at this point but I had fun doing it.
Our show opens next week. Lots of others artists have their own interpretations of this theme. Check it out. And free your mind.