When a loved one passes away and sheds their earthly shell, what often remains are material possessions -- the detritus of a life lived: favourite trinkets, books, tools, and of course, clothing -- typically, lots of it. Faced with the recent death of her father, textile artist Tamara Kostianovsky decided to make these colourful, many-layered Tree Stumps out of the many pieces of clothing he left behind.
Besides making something beautiful out of grief, these unique works suggest a number of thoughtful ideas about our environmental impact during life and death, as well as the cyclic essence of everything going back to nature. As Kostianovsky tells us, it's also a way to honour the personal memory of her father:
I intended to make a type of memorial which would celebrate his love for gardening and nature. The use of these garments aimed at keeping him present in sculptures that would have visibility and would be out in the world.
Kostianovsky, who interned at a surgeon's office during her youth, became fascinated with human and animal anatomy and how muscles, bones and other bodily elements come together -- a fascination that continues to inform her current work.
One can see how that surgical approach influences Kostianovsky's works, as she deliberately and 'surgically' cuts into the tree stumps to "edit" and to "arrive at a whole that needs to feel like not a whole, like a violently severed tree... [as she is] interested in the wound as concept and this body of work applies that idea to the environment."
Kostianovsky is also aiming to raise awareness about how much clothing is produced and discarded every year, thanks to the wasteful "fast fashion" mentality that prioritizes superficial trends over quality, durability and sustainability:
In looking at this work, I wish viewers develop a renewed sensibility towards the textiles that surround our daily lives. My goal is to create a critical awareness of consequences that rapidly changing world of fashion can have on the environment as we compulsively consume and discard clothing. My hope is that viewers will engage with the work and become aware of the impact that they can have on this system as they make everyday, simple consumer choices.
As we've pointed out before, giving away or donating clothes doesn't necessarily help: a lot of clothing simply cannot be recycled or shipped off to other parts of the world. Some potential solutions include buying fewer pieces of high-quality clothing with sustainable fabrics; adopting a capsule wardrobe and also designing our clothes differently. To see more, visit Tamara Kostianovsky, and on Instagram.