Alex Steele Wants You to Wear Art
She creates “multiples,” a term applied to series of identical art objects made specifically for selling. Multiples offer artists a means to sell their work to a broader audience (at more affordable prices) without compromising their artistic intent.
Photo by Lance Yamamoto
Alex Steele makes wearable art. Her artistic hand is evident in all of her pieces — the wide brushstrokes on the Sketch dress, the hand-dyed Symbol Minded jumpsuit in “red clay” Tencel, and the sleeveless Parallel top, on which two majestic nudes are embroidered onto black linen with white cotton cord. Her work incorporates graphic motifs — the female nude, an Egyptian eye, a cobra, or even a simple arc or modified scribble.
Steele likens her pieces, which are made in limited editions, to “multiples,” a term applied to series of identical art objects made specifically for selling. Multiples offer artists a means to sell their work to a broader audience for less without compromising their artistic intent.
The interdisciplinary arts focus of this San Francisco Art Institute grad is evident in her clothing and accessories, which are made to introduce art into women’s lives in a tangible, accessible way. Her intent with her eponymous line is to “promote a wearer’s confidence,” “to transform mood,” and “to uplift.”
“When you are wearing art, it makes you feel good,” she said.
Steele uses printing ink, bleach-squeeze markers, color-removing fabric pens, and Procion cold-water dyes on clothing, and she employs collage methods and stencils as part of her design. She also collaborates with other makers.
Steele avoids traditional fashion “seasons” and makes new work when the inspiration hits, “as art should.” The former Oakland Museum of California art handler has been a full-time art maker for five years, mostly in Oakland, where she lives with her musician partner Peter Lightning, the guitarist for the band Wax Idols.
Hers is a one-person operation, but she hopes to add an employee to help. Steele said she sees herself moving in a more high-end direction, using more expensive materials (such as leather), and creating one-of-a-kind pieces.
Most of Alex Steele’s creations are made to order and are sold online at AlexSteele.studio. You can also find her pieces at Rare Bird in Oakland and Neeko in Berkeley.