Mushrooms are getting a lot of love right now. As a food, a drug and a material, these fungal marvels are inspiring artists and designers across the world. In the fashion industry, they’re being used as embroidered details in STORY mfg.’s collections and Nike’s Air Sprung release. And their mycelium roots are being transformed into vegan leathers by the likes of Stella McCartney and Nick Fouquet.
The art world is also being taken over by the fungus. At its new location in Paris, the global gallery Over The Influence is playing host to an exhibition that is “an ode to the ethereal wonders of the fungal kingdom.” The immersive and playful exhibition is the magical offspring of Darren Romanelli, an L.A.-based artist, and Murmaid, a Paris-based artist and designer.
The duo took influence from the circularity of the natural world and fungi’s role in it. From waste comes creation; everything is regenerated to give new life. They believe this circular system can be reflected in the fashion industry too.
“Our goal is to help lessen the waste in the fashion industry,” says Romanelli. “I’ve always had an affinity for taking something old and bringing it back to life […] I think I saw a lot of similarities with things dying in the forest or fungi growing from these older growths.”
In the exhibition, repurposed and upcycled textiles have been reconstructed into chairs, toadstools and wall pieces, decorated with mushroom motifs and imagery. Murmaid’s work often focuses on upcycling and channeling sustainable practices in fashion. At her female-driven atelier in the heart of Paris, she turns old jeans, zippers, hoodies, buttons, and other warehouse throw-aways into fresh new items.
Each repurposed textile is given new life through techniques like dyeing and embroidery. Wall hangings collage together offcuts into calming mushroom landscapes; toadstools are criss-crossed with colorful yarns; and a chair combines tie-dyed sheets with Disney characters.
This combination of magical imagery, earthy tones and colorful pops plays on mushroom’s more psychedelic and ritualistic side. The shaman cape, for example, brings together panels of different materials with “threading that […] stands in for the threads of mycelium bringing together different parts of the natural world.” As a spiritual item, it is a sort of homage to mushroom’s healing and health benefits.
Walking around the exhibition, your experience is accompanied by a soundtrack from singer-songwriter and producer James Faunterloy, which adds an ethereal dimension to the white space.
Art is a powerful thing. In the press release, journalist Madison Margolin said, “through art, we’re able to imagine and engage with a better world. One that values connection, sustainability, creativity—and which honors the key components at the center of it all. In this case… mushrooms.”
Mushrooms certainly are wonders of the natural world. Let’s hope we can all take inspiration from them as we strive to take better care of our planet.
“Mushrooms In Paris” is open now until August 20, 2022 at Over The Influence gallery, 2 Rue des Saussaies, Paris.
Check out more of the exhibition at Overtheinfluence.com.