Estelle Akamine


each 80" x 22" x 12"
woven painted basket reed
(auxiliary warp)

RED RAIN, detail

9' x 17'
woven and stitched
painted wire mesh
Public art commission:
Oakland City Hall,
Hearing Room I

1985 MFA, Plastic Arts, San Jose State University, San Jose, CA
1977 BA, Art/Crafts/Textiles, San Jose State University, San Jose, CA
1974 AA, Art, Citrus Junior College, Asuza, CA
1972 Baccalaureate work, College of Notre Dame, Belmont, CA

Estelle Akamine was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, in 1954. She moved to California in 1972 to attend college, studied weaving and textiles, and received her MFA in 1985.

For over 15 years Estelle has worked in an experimental direction in textiles: costumes for performance that are sculptures when not worn, wall commissions, and sculptures using images of clothing and identity. In 1986 she was one of 40 US artists chosen for the prestigious "Fiber R/Evolution" exhibit which traveled for 2 years.

From 1994 till the present, Estelle was best known and nationally exhibited for her clothing woven from garbage created while an artist in residence at the SF dump. There, she created over 25 formal outfits that were worn to the San Francisco Black And White Ball by Norcal employees who recycled cans and bottles at the gala benefit for the San Francisco Symphony.

In 1997-8 Estelle concentrated on creating dimensional weavings on the loom. Her environmental statement is now to use natural materials such as basket reed and animal fibers in the shapes of dancers, clothing and elemental forces such as fire, water, trees.

Concurrently, from 1994 to the present, Estelle is involved in public art, creating large quilts and stitched works.

Estelle is a teacher, outreach activist, costume enthusiast, and lecturer to schools and institutions.

My creative life began with my introduction to the fiber arts. Ever since, it has been a doorway to wonderful possibilities. Playing with established processes such as weaving with wire mesh-pre-made cloth, or trash from the SF dump, even using basket reed as warp, has allowed me outstanding sculptural creations. I can lift dimensional vessels from the loom, clothing can become, far out performance costume as well as sculpture when not worn, or fabricate decorative quilts, hats, shoes, literally anything and everything that can be made from cloth.

Another way that textiles reflect who I am is its unique environmental character. As natural concerns are woven into my work as both process and subject matter, I consider it remarkable that a weaver can get by without electrical power, can be portable, and uses mostly renewable resources, often natural plant material gathered at specific times in partnership with the earth. As a teacher and speaker I feature the non-traditional activist role of fiber in my career history. In the fiber facets of my work, I find a complete world to explore.

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