Aay Preston-Myint is a student at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He cofounded the Chicago Tapes Project, subject of an earlier Reader story, and teaches art to little kids.
Liz Armstrong: Did you make the shirt you're wearing?
Aay Preston: Yeah--over time I just start amassing fabric scraps I find. It's a collage. There's no real professional process. I just stick it all together and sew until it doesn't move anymore.
LA: I know you've done a lot of screen printing and painting. What made you veer into squishy arts?
AP: Well, there was the live-action screen printing, where I'd print T-shirts for people at galleries and parties. That was the bridge over into fabric- and fiber-oriented work.
LA: What are you working on now?
AP: I'm doing an all-purpose project about nuclear technology. Right now I'm making models of a plastic dining set where the table is a mushroom cloud and the chairs--like little stools--are nuclear reactors. . . . Also some soft-sculpture nuclear missiles.
LA: Soft nuclear missiles?
AP: There are 44 countries in the world that either can make a nuclear bomb or already have. I wanted to make a little plush toy bomb for each one of those. My friend and I came up with the idea last year.
LA: How many have you made so far?
AP: Only six: Argentina, Belgium, United States, South Africa, India, and Sweden. It's kind of tongue-in-cheek, like Dr. Strangelove, learning how to live with and love our failures.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Saverio Truglia.