spinhandspun designs

Caroline Lathan-Stiefel

Caroline Lathan-Stiefel

A decade ago, Caroline Lathan-Stiefel fashioned her first immersive installation from re-purposed craft and household materials, including fabric, yarn, fruit nets, plastic bags, bottle caps, and rice bags, which were sewn and pinned to elaborate pipe cleaner frames. These colorful upcycled nests are akin to three dimensional drawing, and imply connective systems in chaos.

Below are images from her Layer City (2009) installation at the Delaware Center for Contemporary Arts in Wilmington. During its four month exhibition, Lathan-Stiefel continually added new components to the work, conjuring references to urban sprawl.

More images below, this time from the “Microfibers” show at Philadelphia’s Locks Gallery (2009). Alongside Lathan-Stiefel, Danielle Bursk and Laura Watt exhibited compelling 2D illusory spaces.

Her upcoming installation entitled Hinterland for the Tiger Strikes Asteroid Gallery in Philadelphia, will incorporate sound components in a collaboration between Lathan-Stiefel and her husband, composer Van Stiefel. Over the next several months, Stiefel will be collecting the natural and man-made sounds surrounding their home, and combining these into computer-generated compositions for gallery visitors to hear.

Lathan-Stiefel’s one-story 1950’s ranch home is located in West Chester, PA, 45 minutes west of Philadelphia, in a neighborhood that is adjacent to a densely-wooded forest. In preparation for Hinterland, she has been creating a series of small outdoor installations for a project entitled the Roam Project. Installations range from the wooded community surrounding her home, to buildings and cars in urban Philadelphia.

This prospective work, its collaborative sound elements and guerrilla upbringing in the landscape surrounding her home, updates our modern conception of a Hinterland. Once defined as “the land behind a city,” for Lathan-Stiefel, a Hinterland is “a permeable, fluid entity where the urban, suburban and natural realms connect and seep into each other, creating a kind of thick, overgrown sprawl. A hinterland can also be a psychological realm that one either wants to escape to or escape from.”

Thus far, my interactions with Lathan-Stiefel and her work are solely digital, yet her images still evoke a Hinterland. I regress, escaping into her colorful nests, and feel like an imaginitive youth who, given unlimited supplies, has built myself a fort in the midst of the city. Despite the implications of urban sprawl, there is a playfulness about Lathan-Stiefel’s work that begs experiencing first-hand.

I have asked Caroline to do a show in the Midwest, to which she stated, “I would love to show something in your area, but have no plans as of yet. I may apply to the Kohler Art Center soon though.” Talk about escapism: cheers to seeing a red-hot cast iron bathtub suspended from a crane, and exploring a Lathan-Stiefel installation all in one trip!


Becky Stern’s Body Technology Interfaces
January 28, 2010, 1:40 AM
Filed under: artists in review | Tags: , , , , , ,

Becky Stern

Make Magazine blog writer Becky Stern of Sternlab.org has spent the past year knitting a humorous series of Body Technology Interfaces that spotlight our engrossment in modern technology. Unlike knitwear, which is designed to move with the body, Stern’s wares emphasize the lack of motion involved with technological interfacing, and are instead intended to provide comfort, warmth, and privacy in public settings. Her hope is to bring critical awareness to our absorption in personal electronic devices, and ways they mentally and physically dominate our everyday behaviors and public activities.

To encourage personal communication, Stern invites participants to design and sketch their own Body Technology Interface with her. These designs are then packaged as a kit containing parts and assembly instructions. She asks that participants photograph and document their thoughts and experiences using these creations to Becky@sternlab.org for the project website.

Laptop Compubody Sock for privacy, warmth, and concentration in public spaces

Cell Phone Ski Mask

Keyboard Interface for Computer Programming

More images are available on Flickr™.

Giant VaSquid Complete!

Giant VaSquid with Removeable Eyes for Easy-Access Handling

I’ve finished my squid-cozy for the 2010 Vaksa Cozy Contest. It has been knitted and felted in 100% pure Merino wool. The legs and tentacles are lined with purple flannel underbellies, then stuffed, and I have wet-felted its removable eye from raw roving fibers. That said, my fish probably want their fish tank accessories back…