Fabric Workshop and Museum

Today, on the fifth floor of a colorful building on 12th and Arch, in an unfurnished  room with a single floor-to-celing window, I saw a 52 foot long whale. Made of felt. Entitled Mocha Dick after the great whale the inspired the novel of the like-sounding name, this baby was the brainchild of one Tristin Lowe. It has a nylon inflatable core, “like a bladder,” our guide said, and an air pump that keeps Mocha Dick from exhaling. It turns out that this air pump can be unpredictable, and after a recent power shortage M.D. was out of commission for 3 days. Luckily enough, I was able to witness Monsieur Dick in full form. With such a large peice, it is difficult to stand back and take the whole of it in, which adds to its impressiveness. I was told Lowe likes to go big. Mocha Dick is big.

What I found equally impressive was the zoom-in. Mocha Dick is covered in barnacles, with zipper and straight stitches running down its sides. One section of the felt looks like it had been run over many times to make a gash. I swear, in the right light, if you squint, you can just make out the words “Ishmael waz here”. But in all seriousness, this was an awesome work. Lowe designed the piece and managed the artists from the workshop who contributed to the sewing.

I stole some pictures from this wonderful blog, whose authors did a much better job of describing the artist, his work, and the details of Mocha Dick.

The Fabric Workshop and Museum is only $3, and they have cool exhibitions going on all the time. The FWM website. They offer apprenticeships and residencies, too.

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