While walking Shadow every day, I have noticed that Berkeley residents love to place things out on the curb that they think someone else could use: chairs, monitors, dishes, shoes, books, clothing.... This abundance of goods made me think about the material things in our lives, where they come from and where they end up. The more I thought about global trade, sweatshops, resource depletion, overabundance, and the related horsemen of environmental and cultural despair, the more I wanted to use textiles and knitting to make some sort of artistic statement.
In particular, the humble t-shirt has an interesting and somewhat alarming global impact, yet is treated rather cavalierly, appearing frequently on the parking strips. (You might be interested in The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy by Pietra Rivoli.)
I've decided to attempt an art project based on abandoned t-shirts. From this Earth Day to the next I will be gathering up t-shirts, washing them, cutting them into strips, and knitting with them. I'm not entirely sure what direction this knitting will take! I'm going to keep track of where the t-shirts were found, taking photos if possible and preparing a map.
[Edited to add: I'm looking for the Wild Castoff T-Shirt (as my friend Linda calls it, "the single shirt on a lonely road or in an environment that tells a story"), not thrift shop finds or marathon race leftovers, for example. Wild Castoffs can be found anywhere: in parks, on the sidewalk, on the beach, anywhere.]
And I'd love your help. If you happen upon a t-shirt in the wild, please send it to me along with information about where you found it--and a photo if you are the kind of person who knows how to use her/his cell phone. Just leave a comment and I'll send you my contact information. Wouldn't it be a kick if I were able to incorporate shirts from every state? Or even from other countries?
This might be silly or it might be emotionally meaningful--I confess that I am unsure where my conviction that this is worth doing comes from, but I feel a need to forge ahead. (And please, if you think this idea is stupid, keep your opinions to yourself!)
I'll keep you posted.