Born 1964, Detroit, MI, USA Moved to Chicago, 1987. Moved to New York, 2007.
Shortly after graduating from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1990, I discovered how to weave with plastic bags.
One needs to weave with linear, flexible materials. Plastic bags being bountiful, many of them stuck between the refrigerator and the sink in my kitchen, allowed me to experiment first with weft weaving (the horizontal interlocking of material). The process involved cutting the bags into strips and overlapping their ends to produce a long and continuous length resulting in a fine finished fabric.
I then experimented with using the strips as the warp (the vertical material strung on the loom), tying them together by hand to create continuous length. The only other adjustment needed was to alter the reed and heddles (loom parts) to accommodate the size of a knot. It worked, and I haven't stopped weaving with plastic bags since!
When woven, the seemingly cheap and wasteful bags are transformed into a durable, tactile and sensual fabric. The plastic bag strips bags can be used with all weaving techniques and fiber construction methods, including knitting, braiding, knotting and rope making. The size of the "thread" depends on the density of the plastic and the width that I cut it to. I now use an industrial heat sealer to join the ends together. I work with the inherent color of the bags in design concepts and have experimented with surface treatments that remove and/or add color. Experience has taught me, not many traditional color treatments work on the plastic.
Weaving is a multi-step process central to the expression of my art. Cutting the bags into strips and seaming them into lengths is similar to the process of hand spinning yarn. Collection of raw material to produce my art could be likened to those who raise and shear sheep or harvest flax or cotton plants. My collection process includes gleaning bags from the street, fences and recycling containers at the local Jewel or Copps grocery stores. I have visited a plastic bag recycling operation in Chicago. Friends and family have enthusiastically saved post-consumer bags for me. I think about all the different places around the world the bags could be gleaned from!
My body of work emphasizes both a functional reuse and a critical expression of the overabundance of plastic bags in our consumer oriented society. Additional relevant information about plastic bag consumption and waste around the world can be found by going to the Website, reusablebags.com. …Read More
I weave discarded plastic shopping bags because of the transformation that occurs when I process this modern waste product, produced in vast quantities on a global scale, into a sensual fabric or textile construction. The material speaks to me about where it comes from and what it is made of, directing me to themes of a universal consumer culture, sustaining the environment, and turning blight into beauty. I work with the inherent colors of the bags in my formal concerns when designing appropriate patterns and textures for individual pieces.
My body of work expresses both a functional reuse and a critical judgment of the over abundance of waste, particularly plastic bags, in our consumer society.
Members Show, ARC Gallery and Educational Foundation, Chicago, IL, 2007, 2008, 2009 RE:FUSE, Group show, Orleans Street Gallery, St. Charles, IL, 2007 Brooke E. Demos: Thou Shalt Reuse, Solo Exhibition, ARC Gallery and Educational Foundation, Chicago, IL, 2007 Inspiring Change, Group show, Space 900, Chicago, IL, 2007 Poetic Dialogue, Group show, Carthage College, Kenosha, WI, 2007 Poetic Dialogue, Group show, University of Wisconsin-Waukesha, WI, 2007 North American Exhibition of Paper and Plastic Art, Juried group show, Swope Museum, Terre Haute, IN, 2006 Chicago Art Open, Curators Choice Award, Group show, Zhou Brothers Studio, Chicago, IL, 2006 Members Show, ARC Gallery and Educational Foundation, Chicago, IL, 2006 New Fibers 2006, Fiber Arts Network of Michigan (FAN), Juried group show by Cynthia Shira, Urban Institute for Contemporary Art, Grand Rapids, MI, 2006 New Fibers 2006, Fiber Arts Network of Michigan (FAN), Juried group show by Cynthia Shira, Urban Institute for Contemporary Art, Northern Michigan University, Marquette, MI, 2006 New Fibers 2006, Fiber Arts Network of Michigan (FAN), Juried group show by Cynthia Shira, Berkowitz Gallery at University of Michigan-Dearborn, Dearborn, MI, 2006 Around The Coyote Fall Arts Festival, Curator's Choice Show, Garden Exhibition, Flat Iron Building, Wicker Park, Chicago, IL, 2005 Harvesting the Urban Landscape: Recycling in Art, Best of Show Award, Juried group show, Prairie State College, Chicago Heights, IL, 1999 Transfigurations: Attempts at Understanding Existence, Group show, Gallery 7000, Chicago, IL, 1996 Emerging From the Ivory Tower, Group show, Korean Cultural Center, Foster Bank, Chicago, IL, 1995
Brooke weaves on two looms; Harrisville, 36 4-harness floor loom and Toika, 60 countermarche rug loom.