Joel Otterson

Joel Otterson (born 1959) graduated from Parsons School of Design at The New School in New York City. He currently lives and works in Los Angeles. For the past 30 years, Joel Otterson has made sculpture that combines aspects of domestic handicraft with traditional sculptural materials. Over the years, Otterson has investigated the domestic environment, working his way through each room in the typical American home to reimagine household products as works of art. Using practices such as sewing and quilting, traditionally associated with feminine craft-making, he turns these humble materials into powerful art objects.

“Traditionally, men did tailoring. But quilting, embroidery, and lacemaking was women’s work. I do all those things. I’d like to think that it’s a political statement. I am a feminist, but not the Gloria Steinem kind. On occasion I have met up with a friend in Central Park—he’s big, manly, and smokes cigars, and I’m ‘bear-ish.’ He would tat and I would crochet. Even in NYC where anythinggoes, this was outrageous, two blue-collar-looking guys sitting on a park bench making strips of lace. It was crazy, and I loved every minute of it. The bottom line is that something made by hand is completely different than that made by a machine or in a factory. I celebrate what my hands and their 10 fingers can do.”