For the past six years, Nicole Dextras has taken the native plants of the Pacific Northwest and turned them into elaborate dresses she calls "weedrobes."
Dextras’s art is made out of things found in nature: ice, grass, flowers and leaves. As such, they melt, crack, rot, disintegrate and return to their original composite elements. The dresses are beautiful, but Dextras has more than a pretty picture in mind. Her plant-based apparel is designed to confront important environmental concerns.
"I've had an ongoing interest in environmental art, and working in the theater as a clothes designer opened me up to the idea that the way people dress affects their psychology," Dextras says. "I want these dresses to open a dialogue to people about where their clothes come from."
On frames woven from flexible boughs, Dextras layers sturdy plant materials, such as yucca and eucalyptus leaves, stitched to the frames with hawthorn ‘pins’. Professional actors bring the costumes to life, improvising on themes of nature, such as Jordi Sancho’s memorable Eco-man or Nita Bowerman’s “Ivy” from the 2009 Invasive Species Show. The costumes are brought to Dextras’s back yard where the process of disintegration begins.
Dextras's studio is located on Granville Island in Vancouver BC. The artist divides her time between her art practice, teaching, casting editions for local artists and volunteering for art organizations such as the BC Book Arts Guild and the Artists and Artisans of Granville Island.
Dextras has meticulously photographed all her pieces and the performances, on view at her flickr stream and on her website.
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