Drawing Machines: Splash 6

Six shirts: Three tie dyed, two reverse tie dyed by means of bleach, and one with cyanotype. They follow a similar color scheme of yellows, greens, and blues, most being dyed under a pleated folds, which created the look of plaid under certain conditions. 

My motivation lied in the desire for color and unpredictability in an art form that seemed to easily fall into the traps of colorlessness and predictability. I wanted my personality to be present and visible in my artwork for Drawing Machines, and that felt like something best represented by tie dye, especially as I have a history of interest in textiles and fashion aesthetics. 

The process was very much a team effort — this project would not be what it is without my friends. In technicality, my process was folding shirts into pleats, twisting them in unique ways, and applying dye or bleach. Wait eight hours, then wash, just as the box instructs. But on a less technical level, the process was getting help from friends, dying shirts in front of the Teahaus and sharing extra shirts and supplies when I can, having people to wait with while I let my dye sit. And it was having people there to support me for the disaster that was the bleach dye, cleaning up spills, containing centipedes that crawl out of the sink, and constant reminders that a watched shirt never bleaches. 

This project has been incredibly meaningful to me — it felt like a return to simpler times, very needed in the midst of paper-writing and difficult readings, while also getting to apply new knowledge and use real, inventive techniques, much more complex than the tie dye I tried when I was younger. It has also taught me the lesson that I relearn in art again and again that mistakes can make beautiful things, and to not rush to judge my own art before it’s even done.

Author: Nat Mandel