When he makes his re-creations of clothes, LeDray often uses the fabric from a full-size piece of clothing to make a smaller version of it. Many of LeDray’s objects look as if they have been used before, abandoned, thrown away, given to a thrift store, or sold at one of the sidewalk stands common in New York City, where he has worked since 1989. Every object seems to have its own history, encouraging viewers to imagine the story behind it and to think about who might have owned it, where it came from, and why it is a work of art.
In the mid-1980s, Charles LeDray worked as a guard at the Seattle Art Museum, where he spent time with works of art from all over the world, such as African masks, Southeast Asian jewelry and textiles, and cups made of rhinoceros horn. After work, he would leave the museum excited to make something of his own. LeDray’s work is also inspired by objects with a history. The objects might be precious, like those in a museum, or ordinary, like those you might find in a thrift store or on the street.
All of the objects in Charles LeDray’s work are handmade by the artist. He creates miniature pots on a pottery wheel and stitches together tiny suits, shirts, underwear, hats, coats, and other clothing. He even makes the buttons, cuffs, and collars. Each object requires expert craftsmanship as well as careful attention to detail.