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Creative Momentum is a weekly series of art projects that employ readily available materials found in and around the home. Projects are inspired by artists whose work is currently on exhibit, but whose exhibitions have been compromised due to the global outbreak of coronavirus. Our aim is to continue to offer activities that are connected to contemporary artists, ideas, and practices and that promote critical thinking, social awareness, and inspired making. 

Creative Momentum projects will arrive on Thursdays until Art Omi resumes public programs and workshops.

We encourage you to post your projects to Instagram tagged with #artomi and #educationomi to be featured in Art Omi's stories or feed!
Johanna Unzueta, Nocturnal (detail), 2020.
Johanna Unzueta: Tools for Life, installation view at Modern Art Oxford, 2020.
Photo by Ben Westoby

Creative Momentum 02: Johanna Unzueta

The Artist

My mum always said I learned to weave and knit before I learned to read and write. Hands are tools for me and I can’t disconnect that. – Johanna Unzueta, 2019

Johanna Unzueta is a New York-based Chilean artist and Art Omi alum (2001 USA/Chile) who uses natural materials and industrial processes in works that draw on themes of labor and history. Using felt, wood, and textiles combined with recycled objects from old factories, Unzueta is steadfastly committed to her hands-on, labor-intensive process. For this artist, tools are an extension of the body and her work brings attention to common objects that serve practical purposes but that we often take for granted.

The Artwork

Unzueta's current exhibition, Tools for Life at Modern Art Oxford features a large-scale felt installation, a collection of garments, a film shot at a textile factory in Chile, a wall mural and a selection of freestanding geometric drawings inspired by natural patterns. Take the virtual tour to see and learn more!

For our project, we will focus on two works: A Garment for the Day (2019-ongoing) and Nocturnal (2020). Make sure you see these pieces up close in the virtual tour.

The Materials

  • A piece of clothing that can be up-cycled for art!
  • Paper
  • Oil pastel (crayon, pencil, or marker will do just fine)
  • Scissors
  • Glue or tape

The Project

  • Find a piece of clothing that you don't mind cutting up to make something new! Any garment with a label will work - a shirt, a pair of jeans, a t-shirt, a hat, stockings, etc.
  • Turn the garment inside-out and examine the stitches and seams. How would you describe the texture of the fabric? 
  • Locate the tag or label on the piece of clothing. Where was it made? What materials make up the fabric? What are the cleaning or care instructions? Does the tag contain more than one language?
  • Look closely at the weave (the way threads and yarns are interlaced to create the fabric itself). What words would you use to describe it?
  • Using your oil pastel or drawing tool, make repeating lines on your paper that look like the weave of the fabric. Use a magnifying glass if you have one! In her wall drawing, Nocturnal, Unzueta recreates a herringbone-like pattern much like the weave of the up-cycled denim used in A Garment for the Day. Try to cover the entire sheet of paper with your drawing.
  • Next, start cutting shapes from your piece of clothing. They might be recognizable shapes like circles and squares or organic, free-form shapes. The size of your shapes will depend on the size of your paper. If your garment has tags or labels, cut those out too.
  • Choose a few of your favorite shapes. Make a composition by arranging the shapes over top of your drawing. Use glue or tape to stick them to your paper. Don't forget to find a creative way to include the tags or labels. Aim to cover half of your paper with fabric shapes while leaving half of your drawing exposed so that the two elements achieve balance.

Sharing and Thinking

  • By combining drawing and collage techniques, you have created a mixed media work of art! Show your work to a friend or family member. What do you want them to know about your piece and about the artistic choices you made?
  • What type of garment did you choose? Who wore it last? What kinds of activities would the wearer of this piece of clothing be doing (going to school, playing sports, going to work, cooking, cleaning, going to a party...?).
  • Do your fabric shapes and the way you arranged them say anything about you?
  • What was the most challenging part of the project? What was the most fun?
  • Give your work a title!
Remember: post your projects to Instagram tagged with #artomi and #educationomi to be featured in Art Omi's stories or feed!

Art Omi continues to permit access to the Sculpture & Architecture Park during the suspension of public programming. Visitors must observe a safe (6' or more) distance from others, and adhere to other social distancing practices to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. 

Copyright © 2020 Art Omi, All rights reserved.

Art Omi is a not-for-profit arts organization with residency programs for international artists, writers, translators, musicians, architects and dancers. Art Omi believes that exposure to internationally diverse creative voices fosters tolerance and respect, raises awareness, inspires innovation, and ignites change. By forming community with creative expression as its common denominator, Omi creates a sanctuary for the artistic community and the public to affirm the transformative quality of art.

Art Omi: Education engages people of all ages with contemporary art and ideas in a stimulating and dynamic community. Through creative exploration, hands-on learning and making experiences, collaboration, and critical thinking, Art Omi: Education instills understanding, appreciation, and lifelong curiosity in the arts.

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