Many students have just gotten around to decorating their own dorm rooms.
Fransje Killaars, an Amsterdam-based textiles artist, designed the Prime Minister of the Netherlands' Gentleman's room.
Killaars will be giving a lecture on Thursday, Sept. 12 at 7:30 p.m. in the Art and Architecture building. Her portable work will be featured in the Ewing Gallery today through Oct. 21.
The featured pieces are titled "Figures" and "24 hours," according to Killaars. She has designed many pieces with textiles, both portable for museums and permanent for buildings.
"It's the first time that I have put them together in the same exhibit," Killaars said. "It's the same concept, but it makes a different sculpture, another work."
This concept plays with the idea of color and its role in art. One side of the "Figures" sculpture features many colorful textiles, while the other contains white or cream-colored clothing on a bare backdrop.
"(The idea) is very clear: color or no color," Killaars said.
Killaars' work for the Prime Minister of the Netherlands, Mark Rutte, moved away from museum pieces and into Rutte's house.
"They told me, this is the room if someone is coming over from outside of Holland to meet the Prime Minister, they meet him in this room," she said.
Her mind went to sample books, each filled with numerous colors and patterns with different cultural connotations. She delved deeper and discovered mixture of fabrics that fit her criteria.
"(For) this meeting room for international people, I put up also international cloths, all kinds of countries and backgrounds," Killaars said. "Typical French, typical Italian."
After the work was finished, however, a fire ravaged parts of the building, including the room Killaars had created. She has previously described standing in the part of the building that was still standing, holding in her hands one tiny square of fabric which was all that was left of her creation.
The passion in her voice is evident when she recalls this incident.
"(I get) emotional just talking of it," Killaars said.
Sarah McFalls, collections manager at the gallery, pointed out that Killaars is incorporating white clothing borrowed from locals to give the exhibit a more personalized touch, including a dress and a Hanes undershirt.
McFalls finds the colors in the pieces to be “very stimulating," including many hues which Killaars would have encountered while spending time in India.
“I come from an artistic family,” Killaars said. “My father is [a] sculptor, my mother was a painter and a textile artist. I was trained as a painter, and I used fluorescent colors in my paintings.”
This use of color lead clients to recommend her to go to India, where she encountered a weaving community to collaborate with on her projects, the Tasara Centre for Creative Weaving.
“They use acrylic yarn, which she says takes the color really well,” McFalls said.
According to McFalls, these colors are not only eye-catching, but also recall the past.
“Some colors evoke memories for people,” McFalls said. “We have associations with colors. We told her that people here will really be drawn to her orange and white blankets, because those are UT’s colors, and we have such a color relationship with orange.”
Killaars was featured in a documentary by Heddy Honigmann for the Dutch series, “Holland Masters in the 21st Century,” in which she expressed her creative vision.
“There has to be some friction, something not quite right,” Killaars said in the documentary. “I want you to keep looking, I don’t want it to be fixed. Something which is too perfect, if creating such a thing is possible, is dull, to my mind.”
Killaars uses an unusual medium, textiles, to fulfill her artistic vision.
“The textiles bring a kind of sensuality to these large spaces,” she said. “People always want to touch them.”
For more information on the lecture and Killaars, click here.