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Rochester artist preparing sculptures for MIA exhibit

Detail of the felt and stitching
Detail of the felt and stitching covering Nicole Havekost's sculptures in her Rochester studio. (Ken Klotzbach / kklotzbach@postbulletin.com)
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Nicole Havekost’s art stands on its own.

Especially now that she started giving her sculptures skeletons for her largest show yet.

Her work — paper and fabric sculptures — have an organic look.

"Beautifully grotesque," she describes them.

"Something ‘ew’ or ‘yucky,’ but at the same time fascinating to look at," she added.


It wasn’t until this year that her creations got "bones." The metal structures underneath the felt fabric creations are a necessity for her new larger-scale works — one of which is about 14 feet tall.

Her next show, at the Minneapolis Institute of Art, will literally and figuratively be her biggest show yet.

Her stitched wool fabric sculptures earned a gallery showing at MIA July 16 through Oct. 25 in the U.S. Bank Gallery as part of MIA’s Minnesota Artists Exhibition Program. The exhibit is called "Chthonic."

However, the gallery space, and her work filling it, are at a much larger scale than she’s used to.

"This is totally scaling up 200%," Havekost said. "It’s really exciting to make this work at this scale."

Making the "skeletons" has been a process of trial and error.

"This is a whole other problem I’m trying to solve," she said. "I kind of make it up as I go along."

The metal frames have evolved to become more movable and easier to disassemble and reassemble. That’s because they have to get from her Rochester studio to Minneapolis. Finishing the sculptures is only a portion of the work that lies ahead for Havekost.


Once she creates the work, she will have to disassemble it. The fabric — an organic wool felt — will have to be removed from each piece and then placed in a freezer at MIA. That will kill any potential infestations, such as moth larvae, that may have hitchhiked on the fabric and could damage art in the museum.

Havekost will then have to reassemble each of the sculptures at the museum in the gallery. With her method, it won’t take much time. She uses deep red thread to help highlight the seams to create an organic impression and look. The work is deliberate and sloppy.

"The big old nasty knots — I love them," she said.

It’s a motif she stumbled upon when she was studying art and transitioned from printmaking and created muslin dolls for her Master of Fine Arts degree project.

"They were really kind of deformed and disfigured," Havekost said. "It was great."

As she continued making cloth figures and sculptures, she began to see how the figures, in taking shapes of their own, mimic our own bodies.

"Bodies are amazing and gross and do things you don’t want them to do," she said. "You happen to inhabit them, but it’s its own organism."

The MIA show is a chance to make such figures on a larger-than-life scale.


"I had an idea what I wanted the figures to look like," she said. "I just had to figure out how to build them."

What:"Chthonic" exhibit by artist Nicole Havekost

When:July 16 through Oct. 25

Where: U.S. Bank Gallery, Minneapolis Institute of Arts


Related Topics: ARTGALLERY
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