Miami based artist Federico Uribe is known not only for his art installations but also for his unique and self-made suits. Originally from Colombia, the fashion designer and artist talks about his suits, as he plans to start his own clothing line in the future.
Uribe is known for not just creating art but wanting to be a part of his art. I started about twenty-five years ago. I wanted to design everything about me and live in an environment where everything had meaning,” he muses. “So, I designed my furniture, bed linen, tablecloths, and my own clothing. At that time, I did not have the opportunity to make installations, I just wanted to have different suits that were conceptually created and mostly with nature related subjects.”
His art form is rooted in sculpture and painting, including everyday objects as a way to be sustainable to create classical art pieces. He most recently collaborated with Latin artist Maluma for pieces that are being bid on for charity. Uribe has lived in Colombia, Cuba, Mexico, Russia, England and now the US.
His suits are another way of being connected to his art, and when creating them Uribe doesn’t sketch to start his sartorial storytelling, as he doesn’t sketch his visual art pieces, he just creates. “I have an idea and I do my best to match the particular image that I have in my head. With suits it was always easy for me to find relations between patterns. I go to fabric stores in every city I have the opportunity to visit and buy materials that are conceptually related to each other.”
“To give you an example I buy fabrics white prints of whales, another with fishes, another one with seagulls and sailing boats, and I then have the suit made in Colombia. Suits will always be suits so I make my own variations from designers’ suits that I like. Most of the fabrics I buy are already printed and nowadays I am designing fabrics to be printed and embroidered to be more specific about what I want,” he says.
But, Uribe’s suits are only created around and in conjunction with his art installation pieces. “When I get an opportunity for a show, I start thinking about what the installation will look like based on the architecture of the space and the topography and culture around the museum and its relation to the nature that surrounds it,” he says.
Coming from a nation that has had conflict, Uribe has always expressed himself through a form that he could speak the language of early on in his life: art. “I always drew and created things. I am highly dyslexic; therefore, I think mostly in images. I hear everything literally and that creates images in my head that people rarely think or realize. For instance, if someone says “I am all ears” I see them covered with ears. Or, if they say “brain wash,” I literally see a brain being soaked in soapy water. I guess I just translate into images a lot of things I hear or read. That is how I found out the poetic potential of objects, and I can change the context in which an object is usually seen, I can change the meaning of this object on people’s minds.”
Colombia’s dysfunction sparked Uribe’s creativity. “Colombia has had a recent history of war (since I can remember) and people that live there have this permanent fear of violence and death, as well as the need of reaffirming their own existence, proving to themselves and to the rest that they are alive. That is what I do, I make these homages to nature that reconcile me with life and hopefully inspire other people to feel the same and make them realize that is worth to live because there is so much beauty out there.”
His most recent suit creation was based on a garden in springtime. Uribe combined three different fabrics with flowers and added 3D butterflies and pics with insects. “It was thus a part of my last installation that had the intention of reflecting love among creatures. Before that I made one suit that had printed scooters and sunglasses in the shirt,” as a homage to Miami.
For now, he makes formal suits, from a combination of fabrics with geometrical patterns for his partner and Adam Adelson, the director of the gallery he works with. But, Uribe plans to create suits for the masses to purchase and wear, as he is looking for the right business connections to make it happen.
“I believe that fashion is another space for creativity that we all have access to but only few uses,” he notes. “It is a space where you can express your personality and your character and sense of beauty. We all create and have our own persona, and fashion allows you to make statements that prove your uniqueness. We live in a society that tends to disqualify uniqueness and creativity for the benefit of trends, in a society where the culture of followers is connected to a need for approval. Once you understand that approval is not really that important, you start creating talent, something that’s added to your personality, but it is the lack of fear. Creative people inspire and inspiration make people feel alive, worth it and better.”