Nick Cave (born 1959 in Fulton, Missouri, USA) is an American fabric sculptor, dancer, and performance artist. He is best known for his Soundsuits: wearable fabric sculptures that are bright, whimsical, and other-worldly. He also trained as a dancer with Alvin Ailey.
He resides in Chicago and is director of the graduate fashion program at School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Cave learned to sew in the fiber department of the Kansas City Art Institute, where he earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1982. Also during his time he began studying dance through an Alvin Ailey program, both in Kansas City and New York City. Cave went on to get a master’s degree from Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan in 1989.
He says of himself, “I have found my middle and now am working toward what I am leaving behind.” Cave is well known for his Soundsuits, sculptural forms based on the scale of his body. Soundsuits camouflage the body, masking and creating a second skin that conceals race, gender, and class, forcing the viewer to look without judgment.
Cave’s first Soundsuit was made of twigs. Other typical materials include dyed human hair, sisal, plastic buttons, beads, sequins, and feathers. The finished pieces bear some resemblance to African ceremonial costumes and masks. His suits are presented for public viewing as static sculptures, but also through live performance, video, and photographs.