Artist: Mimi Haddon
Gallery: CSULB School of Art, Gatov Gallery West
On Wednesday, we got to visit the CSULB School of Art galleries for the first time. There were many beautiful exhibits; however, there was only one artist present. Nevertheless, we got to meet the wonderful Mimi Haddon. She received a degree for Graphic Design in 1994 at the School of Art, and now she is working towards her MFA degree in the School of Art’s Fiber Program. Haddon is also a photographer as she used to photograph costumes. Eventually, Haddon learned how to make those costumes. Inspired by the Indigenous cultures and colors, Haddon began her projects with t-shirts over a year ago. Being resourceful, Haddon uses t-shirts from Goodwill that are barely used or thrown away and brings life to them. Without a set plan, she breaks the t-shirts apart and stitches new patterns mostly by hand and sometimes with the help of a sewing machine. For her first project, Haddon bought 100 t-shirts of mostly warm colors. Inspired by the artist Joseph Albers, Haddon is intrigued by color and now embraces the color spectrum for her art work. Haddon aims to make her art appear fun and playful, but still wants others to understand where she is coming from.
Fiber art consists of textiles, dying, wearing, and more. Haddon uses different colored t-shirts and yarn in her exhibit. In one of her projects, the various colored t-shirts organized in rows as they are pinned and hanging from a wall. There are neon, almost highlighter bright t-shirts well as deep, dark colored ones. Staggered in their rows, the t-shirts themselves vary in length amongst each other. At the top of each t-shirt, they are scrunched as the t-shirt in made to look like a deflated balloon. There are stitches across the middle of each t-shirt, but the rest of the t-shirt appears smooth. In another project, there are long lines of yarn put close together with a few gaps and bundles simply lying on the floor. The lines of yarn are slightly jagged but forms a shape similar to an amoeba. Most of the yarn on one side are the colors of red, orange, yellow, while the a small portion of the opposite end are composed of darker shades of orange, purple, magenta, and even brown.
During the interview with Haddon, she mentioned her inspirations for two of the projects in the exhibit. For the piece on the wall, when she visited the Santa Monica Pier, Haddon was inspired by the balloon games. She stated how the balloons explore the color theory, the utilization of colors together, and explains the feeling of being inflated. Each different colored t-shirt is unique just like each individual. Although we may be strangers, many of us do know what it is like to be sad and feel unimportant. On the outside, we may appear to be bright and vibrant like the colors, but deep down, we are holding in our feelings as they are dragging us down. For her piece on the floor, Haddon says how it is like a map of different territories. Once again, Haddon utilizes the various colors but brings them together to create a single territory. We all come from different background,and despite the gaps and bundles representing conflicts and differences, we still come together in harmony. Haddon uses fabrics from all over the world but creates a single beautiful piece of art.
When I first entered Haddon exhibit, I did not quite understand what I was looking at. However, I was intrigued with her use of vibrant t-shirts and yarn. After Haddon’s interview and then taking a second look at her art work, I understood her motive behind using t-shirts, an item that many of throw out after it gets out of fashion, and turning them into an art piece. It is very creative and intuitive. The use of colors is appealing and catches the eyes fast as well. My favorite piece was the deflated t-shirts one because I feel like I can relate to her idea of feeling deflated and just hanging in there. Overall, I enjoyed hearing Mimi Haddon’s story and her inspirations that it made me appreciate her work even more. Her love of color and interest in soft structure is clearly evident. I am glad that even after many years Haddon is back in school doing what she loves. She is a vibrant person, and I hope I may continue to see her emerge as an artist.