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Artist Ian Berry on His New Exhibit at the Levi Strauss Museum

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The Levi Strauss Museum in Buttenheim, Germany is marking a major milestone by tapping into the creativity of British artist and 2019 Rivet 50 honoree Ian Berry. The museum will celebrate its 20th anniversary with a special exhibit dedicated to Berry and his unique medium of choice: denim.

From Sept. 13 through Nov. 8, the museum will feature a collection of Berry’s artwork from the past decade, including pieces from his “Behind Closed Doors” and “Hotel California” series as well new projects inspired by the global lockdowns experienced this year.

The exhibit also shows a short documentary about Berry’s #iClapFor campaign, a global installation that featured a projection of denim hands clapping to show gratitude for essential workers during the pandemic. The exhibit marks the first time the tangible artwork—not just its projection—will be shown.

Known around the world for upcycling old jeans into works of art, Berry’s work demonstrates the influence Strauss had on industries other than fashion. Berry incorporates denim from various brands in his work, and often uses Levi’s to make his contemporary images.

For Berry, however, his work was a fit for the museum, not just because of his connection to jeans, but because of the story of the museum. “For me it’s about the man, about immigration, about going from rural origins to urban,” Berry told Rivet.

Housed in the birthplace of Levi’s founder Levi Strauss, the museum shows the struggles of a Franconian Jew in the 19th century, the hardships of a German immigrant in the U.S., the boom of the textile industry and the history of jeans, all while honoring Strauss’ achievements and legacy.

“As it’s a museum that looks back over the history of the man who really made jeans what they are today, it’s great to be able to look back over my history with the material,” Berry said. “The exhibit will hopefully show how Levi’s ideas and development of this garment not only set off a global brand icon, but also inspired others to use the material in unusual ways. Without him, perhaps I would never have been inspired to use denim as my medium.”

Once the exhibit wraps up in Germany, Berry’s artwork will move on to the Museum Rijswijk show in Holland, followed by the National Textile Museum of Sweden (Textil Museet) next year.

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