Share This Page

Clothes lint also fit for art

Sculptors can use myriad substances to craft their art - wood or wax, clay or concrete, stone or steel.

Cheryl Capezzuti prefers lint.

It seems entirely reasonable, then, that the local artist's latest lint sculptures are being displayed not in any ritzy gallery, but a Shadyside laundromat.

Be forewarned should you attend tonight's gala opening festivities for Capezzuti's "Lint in the Laundromat" exhibit at Duds 'N Suds on Centre Avenue: if you're not careful, you may get some Whisk in your wine or some Cheer on your cheese.

"Oh, sure, we'll have people doing their laundry during the party," said laundromat owner and arts benefactor Steven Rudick. "I think that's only fitting."

This soiree signifies society has ventured far from the days when lint was disparaged by the likes of Emily Dickinson, or perhaps it was that Heloise lady with all the household hints. I occasionally confuse the two.

Either way, you no doubt recall the celebrated though somewhat derogatory poem, "O Loathsome Lint":

"Scourge of suit, of elegant gown

Lint not trapped does make us frown

From apparel we brush away

This frightful fuzz that blights our day."

Don't let the maligned medium she favors fool you. Capezzuti, 32, of Morningside, is a committed, dedicated artist.

She took a recent sabbatical from the Winchester-Thurston School, where she teaches visual arts, to become a community artist fellow at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts. "I like to laugh, but I take my work very seriously."

Capezzuti has been extending the artistic boundaries of lint since 1994, when she was a graduate student at Penn State.

"I started working with it sort of on a whim, and people seemed to find it interesting. Then they started giving me their lint, and I'd make these little lint guys out of it. They liked that, too."

Though lint is extraordinarily pliable relative to most other sculptable material, Capezzuti's work isn't as fragile as one might think. "I combine the lint with a paste and it hardens to a clay-like consistency, but it still retains its ... lintness," she said.

Oh.

That recipe has enabled Capezzuti to create some sturdy statues. But "Lint in the Laundromat" is so much more than little lint guys on little lint elephants, or little lint angels gazing skyward toward little lint paradise.

Capezzuti challenges her audience - and indeed, challenges contemporary notions of lint form and function - by encouraging interactive participation in the exhibit.

Laundromat patrons are invited to leave their lint in a drop-off box for Capezzuti to sculpt and then display. Donors get to keep the work when the exhibit concludes in April. Only one sculpture per person, so make sure only your best lint is provided.

Capezzuti also is offering free classes at the laundromat on lint collage, photography, drawing and sculpture. Duds 'N Suds customers should remember to pack their pencils and sketch pads along with their detergent and fabric softener.

Can't make it to the laundromat during the exhibit• Doesn't matter. According to Capezzuti, anyone using a clothes dryer can be part of the fun.

"The truth is, you don't have to make art or even send lint. If you pause and smile the next time you clean out your lint trap, you are a participant."

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.