Frau Fiber: Mend, Alter and Remake • Long Beach Post

 

The Arts Council for Long Beach, in celebration of National Arts and Humanities Month, has teamed up with local artists and curators to create the Art Trucks Mobile Gallery Exhibition. The trucks will be open for public viewing this Saturday from 4PM to 7PM at the Artist Co-op Open Art Studios located near Gladys Avenue and Anaheim Street, where performance artists Pollenland will be performing.

On Sunday, from noon until 4PM, the trucks will be in residence at the A LOT North site on Atlantic and Artesia, along with performances by Donna Sternberg and Dancers, and Katina Mitchell, in conjunction with the first Taste of North Town. 

The trucks were curated by past Arts Council Artist Fellowship grant recipients Hillary Norcliffe, Jeff Rau, and Betsy Lohrer Hall. They chose artists P. Williams, Vav Vavrek, McLean Fahnestock, Annette Heully, and Frau Fiber to create installations in the trucks. 

Frau Fiber is the alter ego of Carole Frances Lung-Bazile, an artist in residence at the city-owned properties on Third Street and Elm, leased by the Art Exchange Visual Arts Center, Inc.

“My artistic practice is a hybrid of art, activism and apparel production. The practice pays homage to textile and apparel manufacturing histories through participatory performances. The primary projects which have been generated by this work are: Sewing Rebellion, KO Enterprises, Made in Haiti, The Peoples Cloth, the collaborative bicycle powered sewing factory, revolution textiles and, now in Long Beach, the Institute for Labor Generosity Workers and Uniforms [ILGWU]. The work weaves together installation, performance, social sculpture, collecting and the production of objects.

“I think of the work as ‘soft-guerrilla’ activism. The work draws attention to labor histories, contemporary labor practices, and feminism. The reason for this interest is my reflecting on a 14 year career in the garment industry, as well as [my self-identification] as a feminist. I am not, however, an activist in the traditional sense. Although I did explore [the occupy movement] by hosting a stitch in.

“Another example of activism would be the Pussy Riot Sew In, which will be held at the ILGWU on Oct 27. [I will be] employing constructs of social sculpture as a tool for change. [The intention is to] draw attention to the Pussy Riot band members who are serving time in Russian prison. When it involves a sewing action, it’s also about providing artists the space to host something.

“ILGWU is Frau Fiber’s experimental factory and headquarters, which holds her archive, known as the Internet Textile Workers Museum. It’s an appropriation of International Ladies Garment Workers Union. The long term goals is to present projects which reflect on that history. I am also concerned with the aesthetics of the work, and use the look and feel of the factory, in various stages, as a tool for drawing people in.”

Frau Fiber arose from Carole’s experiences working in the garment industry.

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“I grew up in Huntington Beach, and went to North Dakota State University where I studied fashion and textiles in a Home Economics department. After college I moved to New York City in 1988, and went looking for a design/fashion job during the worst garment industry recession in our history. This was when companies first started moving off-shore. I would go to interviews and there were be a room full of 50-60 year old people looking for the same entry level garment jobs.

“I landed a job designing trims, lace, and embroideries. On my second day I was asked to go to Bergdorf’s and draw the trims on the dresses so the company could copy them and send them to china to be made more cheaply.

“My response to this experience came out in Graduate school, when I was studying at the Bauhaus University in Weimar, and I opened the first store front sewing factory. Through Frau Fiber, I am processing the experiences I had during my career in fashion. One way Frau does this is through KO Enterprises, which is a series of performances, where she knocks off garments made off shore.

“Frau Fiber is a super hero alter go, embodied through the uniforms she wears. I am her biographer, archivist. she is the public face, I am the behind the scenes. She came out of my interest in costume and performance, the ways in which people have alter ego names, which they use at events like Burning Man, Mardi Gras, Etc. And wanting to have a character who was a symbol of the movement, which began as the Sewing Rebellion.”

Local artist Betsy Lohrer Hall was the curator who brought Carole, and Frau Fiber, into the Mobile Gallery. Betsy has used fiber, cloth, and clothes in her own work.

“When Betsy and I met, we had a series of conversations about what was possible. I had many ideas about how to address the truck, and what I ended up deciding on was reproducing The Peoples’ Cloth: A test lab or up-cycling of t- shirts. This installation also has Frau present through a video. I am working on these videos which allow Frau to be in multiple locations at once.

The installation will consist of two instructional posters, a table, two hand crank sewing machines, the video, and Frau’s assistant garment workers, who will help facilitate the participants in making t-shirt shopping bags and coffee cup cozys. This is the second time I have presented a public engagement piece without being there. The first was for The Peoples’ Cloth at the Jane Addams Hull House in Chicago.

“I was recently speaking with a curator, and we were discussing the collaborative aspect of my work. Besides Frau, I also collaborate with Future Force Geo Speculators, The Order, and CARPA. I really enjoy the process of conversation, listening, and coming together to form ideas. However all of these practices give me time to think independently in the studio. Also, for The Peoples’ Cloth, it’s allowing me to work with my students, and this is a refection of my garment worker days. Piece work is a collaborative processes.”

Carole is an Assistant Professor in the Art Department of CSULA, where she teaches fashion and textile classes.

“It’s ironic, as I work hard in my artistic life to create change in the industry, and I also do the same thing in the classes I teach, but in a different way. I want my students to have skills, and be successful, but I also want to be critical. I’ve been there 5 years, and this is finally starting to happen. The students are aware of the politics of the fashion industry and the variety of ways to work within it.”

Carole’s work has a simple message.

“I wish people would become conscientious consumers, not just price conscious, as you have to wonder how a shirt can cost $2.99 when it takes so many resources to produce. And Frau want’s you to buy better, buy less, and use some of your leisure time for mending, altering and remaking your clothes.”

Facebook has information about this weekend’s Mobile Gallery exhibition schedule, Frau Fiber’s upcoming Pussy Riot Sew In, and Taste of North Town.

You can also learn more about Frau Fiber via her blog. The Arts Council for Long Beach has created a website specifically to help residents connect with creative and cultural events taking place in October. Visit LongBeachArtsMonth.org to learn more.

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