As we’ve seen with some of the looks from the Met Gala this year and runway shows, fashion is as much a form of art as painting and sculpting. Molding fabric in ways that consistently blows the average mind away. Well, for Lara Schnitger fabric isn’t always about clothing. For her, it’s her artistic muse as she shapes and forms it in ways that well, blow the average mind. With a medium that’s not as common as others, Lara Schnitger has managed to capture the attention of art lovers around the world and then some with her amazing pieces. A pleasure to get to know, here’s our back and forth with a truly wonderful mainstay in the art world.
Kendra: Working with fabric is something someone like me wouldn’t think goes hand in hand with art. Was that the first medium you explored or was it trial and error with others before you landed where you are now?
Lara Schnitger: As a kid in Holland I was always making stuff, this turned into making my own clothes as a teenager (frustrated with the stuff for sale in my tiny town). The high school I went to in Holland offered textile as their art class. We made political wigs, fashion shows, and abstract fabric art experiments. Here I got introduced to Sheila Hicks, Christo, and Magdalena Abakanowicz. Giant monumental artworks made from flexible materials, very theatrical. I was in! And never explored classic materials like paint and stone.
Kendra: Being that fabric is associated with fashion, if you had to compare your work with a particular era of fashion what would it be and why?
Lara Schnitger: The 1860’s – with their Hugh crinolines, crinolettes, and tight corsets. Amazing to give the flat and flimsy fabric shape and form with an inner very light construction. I also love how it changed silhouette into a totally new idea of beauty. Also, punk- the do it your self, I don’t care, now or never attitude. Let’s not worry about beauty but express ourselves. Kicking against society. It’s my way to turn my energy and anger into art.
Kendra: Was there ever a time where you thought you may go into fashion over art?
Lara Schnitger: Not really, art is so much more free and weird. In 2010 I did start a fashion line, Sister of Arp, to make my art more available to all. But putting my clothes into production, making it all by hand in Los Angeles, made the final price much higher then what we are all used to pay for clothes made in China. I didn’t really want to change my designs to make some cheap production, so I stopped. But most of all sculptures don’t complain when you make them look fat!
Kendra: As someone who had their first art show in the early ‘90s, how do you feel the art world has changed for the better and for the worse since then?
Lara Schnitger: It changed for sure! When I got into art there wasn’t a huge big market out there. Maybe one good art fair, a couple of young galleries and that’s it. It wasn’t really placed to have a career. Now the art world is giant, covering the whole planet. Multiple art fairs, biennials, lot’s of new private museums, institutes, and young advisers. It’s less personal and more business; artists becoming big brands. Money is really becoming very powerful and I feel the artist is falling for the capitalism trap and losing their free spirit They are no longer radical outsiders of the system. Very sad…
Kendra: From the Netherlands and now in Los Angeles, do you feel like one place has more locales for inspiration than the other?
Lara Schnitger: Places really do affect me, the street styles, architecture, political climate it all goes in. The most effective a place will have on me if I am new to it, you see it with fresh eyes. I have been living in LA for 15 years now, so when I go back to my birthplace in Holland it all looks exciting and special. Things I took for granted suddenly inspire and stand out. Like tea towels.
Kendra: It’s surreal to be able to make a living in a creative field. When was the first time you said you were an artist and not taken aback by the fact but sort of relish in it?
Lara Schnitger: I never really cared what people thought of me. Being an artist and fully support your self is amazing but art for me is so much part of my life, that I never saw a separation between my profession and my art. I was born an artist, and I am super grateful I can be myself full time!
Kendra: What do you have going on this year as far as new pieces and exhibits?
Lara Schnitger: Sadly my solo exhibition “Victory Garden” at Grice Bench Gallery in Los Angeles just closed, but I just finished installing a sculpture “Sister of the Road” on the Highline in New York. It will be up for a year. Also up in New York, is a big interactive sequin tapestry “I Was Here” at Hudson Yards. This summer a Lightbox installation will be installed in Sydney, Australia. The opening celebration mid-September will include my procession “Suffragette City,” and of course there are always art fairs.