The Denim Question, 2021

Orange Acrylic Yarn, Kancan Denim





"I work primarily with repurposed materials, I enjoy the idea of giving them a second life. The idea of regeneration"

-Zak Foster





"I love the history of denim: I love that the word jeans comes from Genoa and the word denim comes from Nimes. I love the gold-diggers of the Old West wearing denim overalls and James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause. I love that the blue originally comes from indigo, a sustainable and easily-sourced dye material at the time. I love how denim wears and fades naturally over time. And I love how you can dress jeans up or dress them down. 


In this piece, I wanted to create a versatile piece that captured the physicality of the body that would wear these jeans. To that end, this piece can be displayed a number of ways: pulled taut, hung loosely, hung from both the top and bottom loops to create a drape. It’s a piece as flexible as they material it’s made out of. By keeping the legs intact, you can feel a bodily form that both stretches upwards and downward, giving the piece an energy and movement reminiscent of the body itself. 


I love denim, and working so closely with the material gives me an even deeper appreciation for one of the world’s greatest industrial fabrics. As a textile artist who works primarily with repurposed materials, most of my fabrics come to me with stains or rips that they’ve accrued over a lifetime of use. As I was working with these jeans, I felt they were asking me, and by extension all of us, a question: What story are we hoping to communicate by wearing mechanically-distressed denim?



"It was that question that led me to leave the fronts and the backs of jeans whole. I had originally planned on cutting out all the rips and working solely with the parts of the jeans left un-distressed, but in the end, I decided to feature these imperfections and let them remain present in the work."


-Zak Foster

















To Zak Foster, denim is "one of the worlds greatest industrial fabrics" describing it's durable nature and how its strength can be seen as a beautiful thing. Zak points out how denim and jeans, even the words themselves, have a "long and storied history", starting from each word's origin to how and why they are worn today. Its safe to say that blue jeans have become a classic staple in almost everyone's closet no matter the time or where you are in the world, holding true to Zak's funny, yet, honest question, "What did we wear before blue jeans?" 



"It's a fabric that has traveled around the world, and now you can find people wearing jeans in nearly any country around the globe. I just feel like they're so, iconic"

-Zak Foster 







Zak's Kancan X Artists piece is a denim quilt titled, The Denim Question. In addition to using our very own Kancan Denim, Zak also used orange acrylic yarn, something he noted as adding a "nostalgic connection" to his work. He goes on to explain how the human body itself was the inspiration behind his art. "I think you especially see [the body] in the bottom half of the piece where you see the legs, almost like someone's sitting side-saddle" Foster explains, showing that the quilt conveys the image of someone embodying it, almost giving it a life of its own. He goes on to describe how the denim material was an inspiration as well, trying to encapsulate the question of "what story are we hoping to communicate with this denim" which gives meaning to the artwork's title.



"I hope that when people look at this piece they see that question, about what story we hope to tell with our jeans"

-Zak Foster



Instagram: @zakforster.quilts

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