Nick Cave studied both fine arts and dance before he graduated with an M.F.A. from Cranbrook Academy in 1989. He created his first Soundsuit out of twigs in 1992 in the wake of the Rodney King riots; at a moment when Americans across the country were debating issues of race and identity, Cave discovered that the masquerade offered by a suit that covered his body and face offered a new freedom. "When I was inside a suit," Cave later stated, "you couldn't tell if I was a woman or man; if I was black, red, green or orange; from Haiti or South Africa. I was no longer Nick. I was a shaman of sorts." In subsequent Soundsuits, Cave explored a wide variety of materials. Here the Soundsuit is pieced together from braided rugs, gathered from thrift stores in Chicago’s South Loop, and the mannequin’s legs are clad in crocheted stockings. The circular patterns of the rugs give the appearance of eyes, mouths, and other orifices. At the same time, the found materials harken back to quilting and needlework traditions rooted in Africa and Europe, traditions which still flourish across America today.


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Artist
Nick Cave, American, born 1959
Title
Soundsuit
Date
2011
Medium
Found rugs and mixed media
Dimensions
102 × 40 × 23 in. (259.1 × 101.6 × 58.4 cm)
Credit Line

Museum purchase funded by Barbara and Michael Gamson in memory of Peter C. Marzio

Current Location
The Caroline Wiess Law Building
A.P. BROWN GALLERY
Accession Number
2011.870
Classification
Sculpture
Provenance

The artist; [Jack Shainman Gallery, New York]; purchased by MFAH, 2011.