San Marcos,
10:47 AM

Exploring the Fabrics of Life

By David Ogul

There was something about the fabrics his mom sold at swap meets that mesmerized Daniel Barron Corrales. It’s no wonder, then, that the memories he has from growing up in a sea of colors in a textually diverse environment has led the San Diego installation artist to employ fabrics as his canvas.

“Textiles are so much a part of my aesthetic,” said Corrales, whose latest piece, Realms of Appropriation, is the latest University Library Spring Context Exhibition at Cal State San Marcos. “It’s part of who I am.”

Realms of Appropriation, which went on display March 1, will be on exhibit at the University Library through July 1. It is part of the Context Library Series, which is aimed at providing access to a variety of viewpoints and experiences through art, and inspiring research and dialogue related to each installation.

Known for what he calls “viewer-activated” artwork, Corrales designed the central piece of Realms of Appropriation – a towering and expansive textile sculpture – specifically for CSUSM Library's gallery. At first glance, the centerpiece of Realms of Appropriation looks something like a giant, vibrant jellyfish. It is constructed entirely with scraps of fabric from the fashion and textile design industries. And unlike most artwork, it is meant to be experienced through touch.

“This installation is tactile and kinetic,” said Librarian Melanie Chu, curator of the series. “Each piece evolves in the hands of the viewer. Students are invited to touch, shape, and spin the fabric creations.”

Corrales said the fabrics are culled from leftover scraps from the Los Angeles Garment District, each piece either too small for the latest red carpet gown or cut to the wrong size.

“Each piece has its own story,” Corrales said. “And there’s just tons of man hours behind each scrap of textile. I want the viewer to feel these pieces, experience them and make them their own.”

That’s what Corrales did while growing up in the southern reaches of San Diego.

“My mom always sold fabrics at the Spring Valley Swap Meet and I was obsessed with going with her when I was a little kid,” he said. “I just loved the sights, the smells of the swap meet, and I loved the vibrancy of the fabrics. Sometimes I would just hide under a big pile of them and scare people when they would feel through the pieces.”

Corrales said for years he employed other mediums like film and glass to showcase his art before finally turning to fabrics.

“It was something I resisted for a long time, but it is something that really is so natural to me,” he said.

Chu said the reaction to Realms of Appropriation has been positive.

“His work is different than anything we’ve had here before,” she said. “It’s so engaging and unexpected, you can’t help but walk into the library and be pulled away from your cell phone.”

Corrales will be on hand at the University Library for an artist meet-and-greet on April 18 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Realms of Appropriation is free and open to the public during all library hours, and the University Library is open seven days each week.

“Members of the community are welcome to visit our installations,” Chu said.

Previous Context Library Series exhibits include More than a Fence: (de)Constructing Mexico/US Borders, a multimedia installation that explored the geographic, visual, and symbolic impacts of the border fence; Beyond the Stereotype, a campus initiative facilitating a critical conversation on the victims and perpetrators of cultural stereotypes; and Incarceration, Liberation, Imagination depicting local gang violence, prison life, and ultimately a story of faith and second chances.

“Each semester brings a new installation with different themes and curricular connections,” Chu said.

To schedule exhibit class visits or guided tours, contact For more information about the exhibition and the Context Library Series, visit