Did you know that internationally acclaimed artist and textile designer Claudy Jongstra initially wanted to become a fashion designer? And that this ambition shifted once she realized the amount of waste generated by the fashion industry? We had the chance to talk with Jongstra about her background as an artist, her biodynamic farm, and the upcoming “WOVEN SKIN” installation at Climate Week NYC.
Claudy Jongstra studied fashion at the Hogeschool van de Kunsten Utrecht (HKU), however, she soon realized that she didn’t want to belong to this wasteful production system. She got inspired by the fabric of felt and started focusing on environment-friendly materials. Her work became distinctive for its use of products from the land, including dye plants and natural plants. Jongstra strongly believes that these factors form the fundament of her work.
In 2014, Jongstra co-founded “De Kreake” a small plot of formerly abandoned farmland located in Húns, Friesland. There are about 10-15 people working to maintain this beautiful biodynamic farm and Jongstra joins them as often as she can. She takes great pleasure in harvesting the dye crops each year. “De Kreake” hosts “Farm of the World,” a cultural non-profit foundation that explores sustainable futures for the people and land of the Dutch countryside.
Jongstra has made prominent works of art in the Netherlands and abroad, such as the mural installation “Metamorphosis of the Butterfly” at the U.S. Embassy in The Hague (2018); “Aarde” at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (2017); and “Field of Transformation” at the University of Pennsylvania (2017). For every project, Jongstra considers the architectural space in which the artwork is exhibited and she tries to make sure that her work will enhance its purpose. Jongstra comments, “In the case of the work for UPenn, the idea was to stimulate the transformation of knowledge in the space’s atmosphere.” Jongstra recently collaborated on a piece with Maison Margiela by John Galliano for the Artisanal Collection Fall Winter 18/19.
Claudy Jongstra has just finished a new installation “WOVEN SKIN” that is composed of 60 natural wool artworks from indigenous flock of Drenthe Heath Sheep, saturated with brilliant pigment from extensive natural dye research of madder root. Each artwork is stretched, like a skin, onto a modular steel armature, which is meant to awaken viewers to the “bleeding” state of the landscape and the real agency we have to shape and transform our local landscapes.
“WOVEN SKIN” is currently underway on an international tour that began last May in Groningen, the Netherlands, followed by Palermo, Italy, for Manifesta 12 in June, and it is headed for Climate Week NYC this September, to be exhibited at A/D/O in Greenpoint, Brooklyn and at The Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture in Pocantico Hills, NY.
Claudy Jongstra remarks, “My aim is to transform ecological consciousness into action and implement new, yet ancient methods into daily life practice. By organizing this international tour with the project ‘WOVEN SKIN’ and its wide program, ranging from lectures to workshops to legacy product lines, I hope to set meaningful, change-inducing steps and leave an enthusiasm towards a new material culture on each location.”