How did the idea of the Soundsuit come about?
"After building a sculpture from fallen twigs, I realized it could be worn, and upon moving in the sculpture, I heard the most mesmerizing and magical sound that came from the rustling of the twigs on my body. The sound behaved as both a white noise of protection, as well as a siren of warning."
"It is based on feeling, an emotion. I collect materials and objects that speak to me. It is through play and familiarity that I find the juxtapositions of color, texture, form, and meaning that my patterns are born."
You recently performed at The Walk event at the School of the Art Institute, but performances in Chicago are rare. How come?
"It’s not purposeful. However, one of my first performances was called 'Clowning' and took place in Grant Park at SummerDance."
We read that your childhood circumstances greatly influenced your creative process. Can you elaborate?
"I come from a very loving and supportive family. My mother and my brothers were always accepting and celebratory with regard to my individuality."
Do you feel your training as a dancer with Alvin Ailey helped shape your career as a performance artist?
"The classes I took with the Ailey School made clear to me the role dance or movement could play within my work. To activate the art through the body as a vehicle can have profound effect."
Do you believe in fashion rules, or an anything-goes philosophy?
"I have a work-it philosophy: If it works, it works."
What designers are you partial to, and why?
"Those who are fearless. People like Junya Watanabe, Rei Kawakubo, Ann Demeulemeester, and Yohji Yamamoto."
Do you feel like you have any direct influence on fashion?
"I hope that when other designers experience my work, it creates a shift in their mind. That it opens an opportunity to explore themselves deeper."
Why do you choose to use cast-off materials to create your suits? You've stated in interviews that you use items you've collected over 20 years from flea markets and garage sales.
"Giving new life to a spent object is important. It is also with these types of materials that we see opportunities. The history, how it was used, worn, or abused in the past adds a layer of richness that a newly minted material does not have."