Peabody Essex Museum
Nick Cave makes the mundane mesmerizing, and also wild and thought provoking.

In his nimble hands, twigs, buttons, beads, shoelaces, feathers, stuffed animals and crocheted potholders are transformed into magical costumed sculptures called Soundsuits that challenge us to think about the potential that lies within anything — or anyone. Cave created his first Soundsuit in 1992 from twigs he spotted lying on the ground in a Chicago park. It was his response to the beating of Rodney King by the Los Angeles Police Department. The twigs looked discarded, just like he felt as an African-American man, and he felt compelled to show they had value.

Drawing on his experience with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Cave choreographs performers' movements to activate the Soundsuits' inherent motion and highlight their mesmerizing appeal. Cave was born in Fulton, Missouri in 1959.

He lives and works in Chicago where he is a professor of the fashion design department at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. The three Soundsuits featured in this exhibition are among the last that the artist intends to create.