Katrin Schnabl’s multidisciplinary art practice straddles fashion, performance and installation. Known for her eponymous fashion line, and designing for acclaimed performance artists, German-born Schnabl investigates garments as sensory environment.
The suite of new sculptural work by Schnabl featured in Everso is referred to collectively as Chronic. We encounter sculpture incorporating steel, wire, fabric and found objects as media for exploring ideas that embody and reflect on the interplay of inner conflicts and outer projections.
Chronic started as the working title of a series of sculptural installations with soft coverings. These sensory environments may resemble garments, or even function as such, yet their primary purpose is to translate, decode and speak to energetic and emotional processes, imbalances and disruptions. Chronic invisible illness is the starting point for this body of work. Schnabl’s recent research has been on invisible disability and the psychosocial efforts of stepping into the world. Additionally, she is researching sensory processing, molecular sciences, brain research, personal beliefs, cultural stigma and forms of healing.
The membranes of her sculptures relate to inner struggles and outer edges, partial collapses and tension; to processing the effects of mental duress, and the efforts to recover and cope. She is visualizing sheaths of emotion and energy, and their dynamic interplay. Interested in the dual function of permeability and protection in light of the enormous strength required to hold up protective rigidity, Schnabl is exploring ways to visualize how the inward focus of this protective awareness creates a distortion in the outward reading that is too frequently misunderstood.
Schnabl strives to heighten our awareness by creating embodied experiences. The invitation to “enter” the work immediately stimulates one’s sensory faculties. What is seen is the tip of the iceberg; Schnabl delights in visualizing deeper connections to make tangible access points, sharing as she goes along. How are we struggling? What blind spots create limitations in our understanding? Her quest is aided by a curiosity that finds connections through patterns in seemingly unrelated fields, such as molecular sciences and mathematics. Making is a tool to reckon with obstacles, transform tensions and create work that has an immediate sensory stimulus.
Freed from the restriction of having to function within the context of fashion, Schnabl nonetheless employs sartorial techniques to develop this work to exist on its own.
Katrin Schnabl is an artist, designer, and educator. Trained as a dancer, Schnabl moved from Frankfurt, Germany to New York, where she honed her skills both on stage, and off, by creating costumes for dance artists. She shifted towards fashion, and worked with renowned designers, including Jil Sander and Carolina Herrera before launching an independent fashion label Miche.Kimsa, followed by her eponymous line. Since relocating to Chicago, where she serves as the chair of the fashion department at the School of the Art Institute, Schnabl fluidly shifts between creating sophisticated garments that move sensuously on the body, and spatial installations that profoundly shift the relation with the body. Through these sensory and kinetic experiences she is forging new intersections and audiences for her project based practice.