A Visit with Nina Escalante
Toronto, Canada: where
5 mins: read time
Last week we caught up with Nina Escalante. The talented artist behind the creation of our PATCH Series. We walked into her apartment just as she was waking up from a nap. Her winged eyeliner - still flawless. Nina had lots to show us right away. She excitedly pulled out a new piece that she's working on, explaining to us that working on the piece has been meditative for her. She lays it out, and it is sort of an all seeing eye. It's meant to be interactive and she pulls on a zipper she has sewn into one of the pointy eye lashes. It's marked by rows of Sashiko stitches along the top, as she has been working her way down. This piece is full of texture, faux fur and various denim scraps all merged together. "It's what I work on to practise sewing," she tells us. She’s talking about learning to sew with her partner Jason’s industrial Juki. Nina is doing just fine with a hand stitch.We chatted over a playlist Nina put on - Silk Sheets, each of us regretting that we didn't make it to one of Daniel Caesar's (4) shows. Sending a link to the playlist, afterwards she described it as "For the love making of the art". And it is obvious in being around Nina that she does love making art, and that she surrounds herself with it.
We were joined by Nina’s friend and photographer for the day James Lai. When we approached James about photographing Nina he agreed, asking only that we respect his method which he described as “I tend to observe, understand the process and then shoot”. James shot most of the images on 35mm film switching between two or three cameras. He surprised us when he pulled out a huge camera that was plastic and bulky. It was an old polaroid. He told us it had a macro lens, good for shooting at a crime scene or something they would have used (ages ago) at a dentist’s office.
Nina knots her thread the way her grand mother taught her. By pressing the tail end around the needle, wrapping above 3 times then sliding the whole thing down until it knots at the end of the thread. One of the best ways I've been taught, it is utterly consistent at being tangle free.
She also sits down to show us something she is working on with a bit of nostalgia. "When I was growing up in a very Catholic household my mother was teaching me how to stitch baby angels. I wanted to go back and visit that again in my stitching". The geometric design of the angels speak to her Filipino roots, and the history of stitching thats runs in her family passed down from her grand mother.
Nina explained where some of the fabrics for the piece came from, "I get a lot of fabric from Jason's scraps. We are saving money for our trip to Japan. So I am trying to find materials I don't have to buy right now". She points to a half drawn hand on a denim round, "This is leftover denim from the patch project I worked on for BORN SOLO".
We asked Nina our BSDS Interview and here is what she told us:
Time: 2pm and I need a nap
Place: the safety of my cute bachelor
What is making you feel right now?
Provider by Frank Ocean
'im the only one out here in the night loops'
'are you a natural blondie like goku., sleeping on my belly like a serpent'
What do you treasure?
- people I love
Describe your favorite article of denim:
i have TWO!
1. a denim skirt I got from my mom that she used to wear in her 20's & it's fraying at the bottom -- that's the only piece of feminine in my closet
2. Carharrt denim overalls I found at a thrift store, it was $20!!! It fits me in all the right places, being a petite little lady it's hella hard for me to find thrifted clothes that fit at the right places. (it makes me have a nice booty hehe)
Mutual happiness through sensual actions or that Thursday deal at Popeyes
What could humanity use more of?
jeez WHERE do i start?
I don't want to go on cause idk where to stop lol
What is your favourite scene?
back in manila spending time with my grandma, watching time pass by
Have you any regrets?
not knowing how to love myself more when i was younger
After death, what word will describe your life?
hopefully - - - - FULL.
Text by Alexis Venerus
Photography by James Lai
Follow Nina @ninaesca
Originally written for and published on in 2017