WE ARE ACTIVISTS — CAROLINE Z HURLEY

Our experience with art that has truly moved us has always been about feeling—the heart-rush of seeing some part of yourself reflected back at you, truer than you could imagine, a mirror and a blessing all at once. And yet, how many times have we wanted to actually feel that feeling? To touch it, hold it, claim it as our own, to live around in it for a while? Painter, textile artist, and new-mama Caroline Z. Hurley's work makes that leap between feeling and feeling, bringing that thunderbolt of inspiration into the home-space in the form of beautifully rendered block printed, woven, and quilted textiles that are made to be touched, felt, lived with, and loved.



This season we are beyond pleased to be multiplying those feeling feelings by collaborating with Caroline on a design for our Sisterhood Bandanas. Continuing the tradition of things made thoughtfully by women, by hand, proceeds will go to "Souls Grown Deep", whose work in support of black southern artists includes preserving the legacy of southern quilt-making matriarchs at Gee’s Bend. We joined Caroline (a southern quilt-maker and newly-minted matriarch—welcome to this beautiful side of the universe, Penny!) to talk about her Brooklyn-based practice, what it's like to be back in her studio after the recent birth of her daughter, and the power of touch AND feel.

 

Caroline wears the Wolfe CoatKate Pant, Marianne Turtleneck, and OZMA x CZH Bandana

  

  

  

  





Can you describe the journey your designs make — from the first early dream to gorgeous finished textile?

I like strict parameters for my creativity. For our block-printed work we use a “vocabulary” of about 14 shapes, which include various size rectangles, circles, triangles and squares. I love starting with these as the basis for everything. It’s amazing how many different patterns you can make with such a simple alphabet of shapes. I like having this framework as a jumping off point. Collections are inspired by simple things like the feeling of warm sand on bare feet, or the smell of Earl Gray tea on a foggy morning, or tall weeds blowing in the wind, or cotton fields in full bloom...Once I feel inspired I sort of let the work come through me instead of plotting it out. I hardly ever sketch.  

 

We love your patternwork on our bandana collaboration. What is the inspiration behind that particular design and how did it come to be?

This pattern was inspired by the shadows created from the zigzag dune fences that line the beaches in New England. That was the starting point. I block printed on paper then cut the paper to form circles and arranged them in a new pattern.

 

Tell us your relationship with "Souls Grown Deep" and how it connects to your work?

During my pregnancy I became very inspired by the quilts of Gee’s Bend in Alabama. My most recent body of paintings are heavily steeped in this work. As a southerner, I felt a connection to the women who create these quilts and I wanted to support them in any way possible so that their beautiful creations continue for generations to come.


  

  

 

Caroline wears the Marianne Turtleneck and Utility Pant.





 

Caroline wears the OZMA x Caroline Z Hurley Limited Edition Bandana.

 

 

 

Caroline wears the Marianne Turtleneck, Deia Jumpsuit, and OZMA x CZH Bandana.

  

  

  

  

 

  





The idea of "home" can be about building your own very specific peaceful world, but it's also deeply tied to roots, histories, family narrative, and sense of place. How does this speak to you in your work and how you balance or honor this in your own work/life/space?

This is something I have been thinking about a lot. Home is the basis for everything we do. In our work, we aim to inspire people to love their home because we believe when your home feels good your world does too. We want people to start with their own little spot—to make it feel kind, generous, and filled with love. We want people to feel grounded and solid in their homes so that they can bring that energy out into the world and spread it wherever they go. For me, I want my roots and my family to be a part of Penny’s life in a real way. Both my family and my husband’s family are all spread out at the moment but I hope to build something one day for all of us, not quite a commune (but also not NOT a commune…). I’m craving a place to be together—a place deeply rooted in nature and somewhere close to the ocean. Right now, with the pandemic, everything feels hard in terms of being together but my goal is to create something that makes being together feel like a no-brainer.



How does your creative process/your relationship with it look different now than it did three months ago/six months ago/ a year ago (whew, what a year!)?

Everything feels different for me now with a baby. I was pregnant during the shut down and in a way it really worked for me. My teammates were working remotely and I was in the studio by myself for several months. I used the whole space as a painting studio during that time and it really expanded me. It felt like I was back at art school exploring mediums and reading about artists and techniques, laying on the floor (something I do every time I create anything) and really indulging myself in any type of creative work I wanted.  I hadn’t made time for my practice in a real way in the studio before the pandemic because it felt like there was no time, and during the pandemic it felt like all I had was time.  Now with a baby, time feels sparse again, but I am excited to see how it feels to have Penny in-studio with me. Her energy is so beautiful—she is ALL love. I think she will bring a type of lightness and joy to our work...I am actually in the process of re-thinking my business now that I have Penny. I want to spend time being with her, both in my studio and out in the world, and I want to create a company that allows me and my teammates with children to do just that. I want painting to be at the forefront of the business and for the textiles to support that. I want to be donating more money to causes we care about. It feels a little radical but also really liberating and fun.




 

 

See more of Caroline's work here and follow her  on Instagram here. Photos by Emily Hlaváč Green.

 

Our OZMA x Caroline Z Hurley Limited Edition Bandana (seen below) can be found here. All profits will be donated to Souls Grown Deep, a foundation dedicated to promoting the work of African American artists from the south. 

 

 

  

 

 

 

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