Meet Nicole Dextras, an environmental artist who often takes her creative vision out into the wild to showcase the fragility of our environment and the intimate relationship between nature and human beings. She has crafted numerous transformative installations all over the world, including Mongolia, Mexico, Spain, Seattle, Portland, Vancouver, Toronto, and Mont Real. Frozen Textiles is one of Nicole Dextras’ most visually striking art pieces delving deeply into the topics of environmentalism, the fleeting passage of time, and the ever-changing nature of things.
Frozen Textiles’ artworks immediately catch the eye with the unusual use of vintage garments and remarkable composition. It’s not often we see frozen dresses carefully placed in the wilderness as if they’ve always been there, like some kind of unusual ice flowers growing on their own. The whole process required meticulous planning and creative vision, as well as the right temperature for the whole idea to work.
The idea to freeze garments, textiles, and other objects came to Dextras after a memorable 2005 snowstorm in Vancouver that left everything covered with ice. That’s when the artist got inspired to experiment with ice and its ephemeral nature. It was very much like life itself – ever-changing, fragile, elusive, and exceptionally beautiful.
The Bouquet installation is what makes the whole Frozen Textiles series stand out so much. In order to get playful with nature, Dextras needed to freeze her dresses – a carefully selected collection of 40s and 50s vintage garments. All she had was 15 dresses, a bottle of water, and the incredibly low temperatures of Alberta. In just a few days she had all the garments properly frozen, with crispy snow-covered frills and large skirts reminiscent of icy flower petals.
Once the mysterious transformation of each dress was finished, the artist arranged them in a breathtaking bouquet filled with icy details, frozen folds, and bright colours looking almost gaudy against the bleak wintery background. It was as rich in detail and colour as the versatile flora of Mother Nature, and turned to be just as transient. The spectacular textile bouquet stood beautifully for a few days only until the warmer temperatures completely destroyed it.
There is a darker motif behind the Frozen Textiles’ creations as Nicole Dextras was heavily inspired by folk fiction telling stories about ethereal trees and flowers emerging from the underworld to lure unsuspecting victims to their deaths. The Bouquet is like a huge Venus flytrap, a man-eating monster that looks beautiful on the outside, but is deadly on the inside.
Unlike most of the artist’s installations, Frozen Textiles was placed in a remote location where no one could experience its haunting beauty. The photos are the only objects left to tell the story of the gorgeous mystery and hidden danger. Just like a magical event that can’t be easily witnessed by many, but can only be seen and captured out of sheer luck by being in the right place at the right moment.