Prompt: I submitted this piece as my final project for the Sustainable Systems course. The final project prompt was extremely open-ended and students were allowed to explore really anything they found interest in that related to the coursework. Documentation of process, research, purpose, and possible continuations were required, but the project was very conceptually open to the likes of the individual student. I chose to explore biomaterials because of my fondness for experimentation and problem-solving.
After researching and creating connections across the incredible amount of systems involved in the creation of leathers, I quickly became interested in alternative solutions that rid themselves of these harmful processes. I then began experimenting with a wide variety of biomaterial leather recipes including red clay, mycelium, mango, and many iterations throughout the process. Through weeks of trial and error, I eventually landed on my most successful and most “leather-like” product, a mycelium powder and agar-based bioleather. I created several sheets of this leather to use for my sculptural piece. To begin sculpting, I create a wire base. I wanted to piece to be very natural with organic forms, which is what I created with the wire. I then laid sheets of my leather over the constructed base and used a thin needle and thread to attach the two pieces. After completing my sculpture, I wanted to tie back in the very critical systems I learned about through my earlier research and chose to use black gouache to illustrate things affected by the leather production process.