Katie Vota  Sculpture & Installation Artist

What does it mean to make sustainable, queerly-made objects in the Anthropocene era? To me, it seems unacceptable to work any other way. I cannot contribute to the problem through my own creation. Instead, I work with the cast-offs from larger systems—ready-made garments from the fast fashion system as well as any cast-offs I can find in quantity—transforming them into objects with purpose. This purpose slips and slides along a spectrum of use and art and craft and fashion, sometimes straddling lines, sometimes tearing down walls between categories. Is a rug a rug? Or is it a record of the labor to create it? Is it a way of utilizing fast-fashion refuse? Or is it a painting after all?

Through all, I think about the ways objects act upon us, give us power, enable us to be our best (or worst) selves. I’ve come to the conclusion that textiles and wearable objects are best situated to work through ideas around identity, as garments are our first line of self-expression. In making textile objects, I ask viewers to move past superficial levels of identity and think more deeply about how objects act on us. Do objects give us power (an active engagement) or do we gain power through the imagined confidence of self-image (a passive engagement)? How do systems of power play into representation, and can we create the tools we need to (self)empower/re-invent ourselves if the tools within the system fail us? In textile objects, how does imagined tactility help to re-enforce expression? Does our desire to engage more fully stir deeper thoughts and longings, allowing us to move past the surface to the ideas and hopes and dreams encased within it? I do not have the answers, only questions, desires, the wish to share the pleasure of making, holding, touching, togetherness, for we’ll never make it through this new era alone.