You’ve Never Seen Pillow Art Like This
Squishy noodles, quilted money, poufy cartoon characters—these female artists are transforming the humble pillow into sculptural objects that are anything but square.
Updated Sep 29, 2021 7:30 AM
Seamed and Sewn
Originally from Kentucky, the Queens, New York-based ﬁber artist Natalie Baxter found her calling at a young age. “Quilting reminds me of my grandmother, who grew up in Appalachia,” she says. One of her better-known installations, Warm Guns, is a wall of quilted riﬂes made with recycled cloth, tassels, and spandex that confronts ideas around masculinity and violence using traditionally feminine materials. Other works—like Money Quilts, resembling giant fabric dollar bills, and Alt Caps, which reimagines text pulled from a negative review as hand-sewn suffragette-style banners—further play with expectations. “My goal is to wrap up serious issues in a ﬂamboyant package,” says Baxter.
Seven years ago, Brooklyn artist Hein Koh began experimenting with ripping up cloth and sewing the pieces back together. “I found it meditative and relaxing,” she says. Her ﬁrst soft wall sculpture—a painted acrylic eye made out of canvas and stuffed with Poly-ﬁl—paved the way for her oversize works, including a one-eyed ice cream cone, a crying rose, and a humanlike hamburger. “I started anthropomorphizing everything after my twin daughters were born,” she explains. Inspired by artists such as Yayoi Kusama and Claes Oldenburg, Koh cites metallic spandex and sequins as her latest favorite textiles: “I’m like a kid in a candy store when I’m surrounded by my materials.”
For the Love of the Noodle
New York prop stylist and sculptor Molly Findlay was searching for the perfect couch when she had an aha moment. “I was feeling very hemmed in by how permanent a sofa can be,” she explains. “I thought it would be fun to dismantle and reduce everything to its most simple form: a long string.” And so Mrs. Noodle Pillow was born. The original model—40 feet long and covered in bright Brussels velvet—is like a malleable indoor jungle gym–meets–art piece smack-dab in the center of your living room. “Our kids pile them up, string them out, or coil them into a nest,” says Findlay. “With all the craziness going on in the world, it feels really good to come home to a giant hug.”
Get your Fill
From the beautifully structured and original to the vibrantly patterned abstract, these are the picks you absolutely should have on your radar this season.
The Stuff(ing) Dreams Are Made Of
“Conventional pillows are full of chemicals that release toxins while you sleep,” says Elizabeth Pando-Nieves, vice president of organic bedding company White Lotus Home. “All night you breathe in whatever is next to your face.” Here are ﬁve all-natural alternatives for the earth-conscious snoozer. Avocado Green Pillow Avocado Green Mattress
A silky ﬁne ﬁber sourced from the tropical Ceiba tree, kapok creates a denser pillow, since it can be packed in. It’s also considered a vegan down alternative and feels very similar.
Buckwheat Pillow, Hullo Pillow, from $59
Naturally pesticide-free, hypoallergenic, and water-resistant, buckwheat husks comfortably conform to your neck and are good for those with shoulder pain and headaches.
Organic Wool Pillow, Shepherds Dream, from $91
The old-school option, wool is a natural dust mite repellant. Plus, it wicks moisture away from your face and body while you sleep.
Organic Cotton Pillow, My Organic Sleep, $41
Grown without the use of pesticides and synthetic fertilizers, organic cotton will provide you with a more supportive pillow.
Natural Latex Pillow, Sleep on Latex, $69
Derived from the rubber tree, natural latex comes in shredded strips and has a springy, spongy feel. Added bonus: It should last for at least 15 years.
This piece originally appeared in the Fall 2018 issue of Domino under the title “Pillow Talk.”