Andrea Zittel is a California based sculptor and installation artist, whose work is an ongoing experiment and exploration in living as it relates to shelter, food, furniture and clothing, and is in response to her daily routines and surroundings. In the early 1990’s, as a young artist, with very little money, and working at an office job where she was expected to wear “something respectable”, she conceived of the “Uniform Project”. Now her longest running continuous art project, it started as a pragmatic response to her situation, at the same time confronting the values placed on fashion. Each season Zittel designed one perfect black dress, which she wore every day for an entire season. Made by a professional seamstress to her specifications, she would replace her perfect black dress each season with another seasonal creation. The project evolved over the years to explore her changing interests, moving from a perfect black dress to an exploration of Russian Constructivism, and working only with rectangles of fabric, which she could sew herself. Simplifying her concept over time, she moved to utilizing rectangles of fabric literally torn from the bolt of fabric, evolving to crocheted dresses, formed from a single continuous thread, till finally eliminating even the crochet hook to manipulate the stands of thread with only her fingers. Then, in 2002, she discovered felting. “Now I am finally beginning to make the most direct form of clothing possible by hand-felting wool directly into the shape of a garment.”
Fascinated by the flexibility of felting, Andrea Zittel creates seamless dresses formed directly into fiber and form in three dimensions. Quickly exceeding her strict seasonal requirements, she produced variations in color, texture and ornamentation. Creating exquisite pieces with simple silhouettes incorporating all the uniqueness of the material, with dripping hems and lava lamp like holes, varying in texture and thickness, and imbuing each piece with a sense of organic connection to the material itself, as if it were made from wood or stone.
Zittel also founded the “smockshop”; an artist run enterprise that generates income for artists whose work is either non-commercial, or not yet self-sustaining. The “smock”, designed by Zittel, is a simple wrap around garment sewn by the artists themselves, and produced with their own artistic interpretation, to create one of a kind, unique pieces. Sale of the smocks genera income, providing artists with alternative space for experimental works, on parcels of land located along a stretch of desert community encompassing the Joshua Tree.
Graduating from with a BFA in painting and sculpture from San Diego State University and an MFA in sculpture from the Rhode Island School of Design, Zittel has been featured in countless joint and solo exhibitions around the world, including the Whitney Biennial, the Smithsonian, Museum of Modern Art, New York and the Guggenheim Museum. Now teaching at the Roski School of Fine Art at the University of Southern California, she commutes between the desert and California.