Artists have long explored the infinite layers of humanity. With The Many Suits We Wear, Alix Twiggs Wright takes that exploration into her practice to create physical suits that represent our many real and metaphorical identities.
In the far back gallery of Bountiful Davis Art Center, viewers can find Twiggs Wright’s “magical suits,” as she refers to them, strewn about a gallery-staged child’s bedroom. The suits lie lifeless on the floor and draped on various furniture pieces. The decision to display the suits in this manner allows the viewer to immediately connect with the scene in front of them. The artists invites viewers to think not of the clothing they shed at the end of each day, but to think of the roles they put on, and remove.
Twiggs Wright notes that, “The Many Suits We Wear refers to the many layers we all have as humans.” When asked if she feels these “suits” can be a tool to hide ourselves, she explains it is quite the opposite. They are a representation, a celebration, of the complexities within each of us. “I think we all have different ‘suits’ we wear for many occasions. The suit I put on to be a mother and teach my daughter is different than the suit I put on in other situations. They’re all real and important parts of me but different facets of myself that don’t look the same.”
Twiggs Wright has spent the last year creating these visual representations of our personal intricacies. Each magical suit is made from found and thrifted materials, embedding the final products with the layered histories and memories of the objects. It is for this reason Twiggs Wright thinks of them as magical. Each component of this work pays mind to the nuances of humanity and pays homage to the multiplicities within us.
The body of work began as a personal pilgrimage. In pieces like “She Calls me Mom” and “Pilgrimage” the artist has created suits made from repurposed towels. The choice of the towels is a pointed one, as the artist had previously utilized them in her own self-harm. “Ripping [the towels] apart and weaving them into something new like a garment gives me control over something that at one time I felt like I had no control over.”
Twiggs Wright found the creation of communal pieces to be therapeutic as well. In one work in particular, “The Words We Feel,” she gives a platform to other women to share their parenting fears and trials with motherhood. The suit is made from used garments on which the artists has embroidered a collection of expressions. “I’m exhausted all the time,” “This country hates moms,” “I just want some silence” are a few of the feelings stitched into the suit. The artist says that working with a community of mothers to make this suit “showed me how important it is to give space to these shared struggles.”
In “Measuring” Twiggs Wright collected over 100 yardsticks and tape measures from estate sales that could act as a physical representation of the weight of expectations society measures us against. The yardsticks are varied in their size, shape, wear, and tear. As are the former owners of the materials. In each suit viewers are sure to find glimpses of themselves while being reminded of the commonalities we all share.
Though the works are displayed free of shape, each is accompanied by either a video or a photo of the artist and her daughter wearing them. Photos of her young daughter in the suits are a reminder that adults are not alone in being home to complex layers. Twiggs Wright says, “My daughter is not only my muse, but my favorite collaborator. I feel lucky to be creating art alongside her.”
Alix Twiggs Wright: The Many Suits We Wear, Bountiful Davis Art Center, Bountiful, through Sep. 9
All images courtesy the author
Heather Hopkins recently received her BA in Art History from the University of Utah. She is also an arts writer for Southwest Contemporary. When she isn’t lost in a museum or art gallery, she can be found hiking and camping with her wife and their cat.