imagine my perfect self a 98-year-old woman with decent biceps, long gray hair, and eccentric couture— something to work towards rather than against. Iris Apfel's whimsical, bold sense of self and style is something I wish we had more examples of in our culture. When the Peabody Essex Museum asked me to create something for the opening of the new Iris and Carl Apfel Gallery, I wanted to gratefully honor her as a role model in living your most vibrant life.
I I decided to pick six fabrics from Old World Weavers (the company Iris and her husband Carl started) and describe them with soundscapes. Old World Weavers is now owned by Scalamandré, so I visited their showroom at the expansive Pacific Design Center where the staff went on a scavenger hunt for samples that were likely part of the line when the Apfels were actively involved. I'm now home with my selections sprawled across the apartment, and I'm working on long-format soundscapes that express each one. Describing style with sound is an interesting challenge. I'm leaning into the physical noises each makes when it moves, the style of the print, the places I imagine it to be used, the genres of music those things remind me of, the density of the pattern, what the color evokes to me, how it feels, and more. I want it to be a sonic perfume that compliments the surrounding exhibit like the perfect accessory. I'm excited to present the completed work-in-progress at the PEM Continuum Gala on 9/21 in the midst of an art party that takes over the whole museum from 8pm-1am. I hope some of you can make it out, and as a member of the GenPem Steering Committee, I encourage you to join the program.