One of Long Beach's most prominent artist-activists will ditch her textile-centric mediums this summer for a prominent residency in a Wisconsin iron foundry.
Carole Frances Lung--who practices a unique blend of art, activism and apparel production under her alter ego Frau Fiber--was selected out of 400 applicants as one of 16 artists to participate in the 2014 John Michael Kohler Arts Center’s prestigious Arts/Industry Program. The program is an unusual collaboration between art and industry and is sponsored by the Kohler Co. (yes, the toilet and faucet manufacturer), who have long been advocates of the arts.
During her three-month residency, Lung will have a studio at Kohler's iron foundry in Sheboygan, where she will work alongside the company's skilled technicians and explore new ways of thinking about her practice.
"I’ve never worked with iron before in my life," says Lung. "This is a total departure from the work I usually make and I’m really interested in that. Kohler wants you to stretch and learn and do things you wouldn’t otherwise do, so this is perfect for me."
In her proposal for the residency, Lung said she wanted to partner with a nearby sock factory to collect discarded waste and recast the items--like bobbins from the yarn--in iron. Calling it a "recasting of history," the project will solidify in metal for the first time objects related to garment production.
"This is something that's materials-specific and will let me create a body of work that I wouldn’t otherwise make," Lung says. "Plus, I get to explore conceptually what I’m already working with and thinking about with regard to production and objects. I do so much work about garment factories, so I think they’re also curious to how I respond to being in their factory environment."
Lung is currently a professor in the Fashion and Textiles option in the Department of Art at Cal State L.A. and an artist-in-residence at the Art Exchange on 3rd St. and Elm Ave., where much of her work has been performance-based, not rooted in creating objects as she will at Kohler.
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Her storefront has been home to her latest ongoing performance project, the Institute for Labor Generosity Workers and Uniforms [ILGWU], and before she leaves on June 15, she will be performing in the window, sewing blouses in commemoration of lost garment workers. In November, she plans to exhibit the pieces she created during her Kohler residency, minus one, which must be donated to the John Michael Kohler Arts Center.
While Lung is doing her residency, her Art Exchange space will remain an active site for art and discussion.
"I have some awesome people lined up to reside in the studio while I’m gone," she says. "Like Cal State Long Beach grad students from the Fiber Department and I'm working with some L.A. curators and artists too. I'm also providing a residency for a queer fiber artist that will activate space until I get back."
For more information about the John Michael Kohler Arts Center and its esidency programs, visit jmkac.org. Frau Fiber's Long Beach studio is located at 346 E. Third St. It is open to the public during posted hours. Learn more at ilgwu.wordpress.com