Portrait Of An Artist: The Creative Mind Behind Levi’s Field Of Jeans

Levi Strauss & Co.
December 3, 2014

Here at LS&Co., we like to think big.  And when we decided to build a monumental field of jeans — bringing the collective impact of recycling to life in Levi’s stadium — we knew exactly who to turn to.

Hannah Sitzer has been creating custom installations, environments, and experiences with her design house Antlre since 2007, making the impossible possible through experimentation and creativity — all with a commitment to using environmentally conscious methods. We asked the artist to fill us in on the makings of her biggest work to date: The Levi’s® Field of Jeans.

Levi’s® Field of Jeans™ from Levi’s® Stadium on Vimeo.

UNZIPPED: How did you come up with the initial concept for the project?

Levi’s came to me with the idea of creating a donation-based Field of Jeans. I came up with about five different designs based on the dimensions of the field and how many jeans we would need to cover it. The idea of arranging the jeans from light to dark kept bubbling to the surface because of its flexibility.  Since I had no way of knowing what shades of denim we would have to work with,  we needed the design to be  fairly malleable. The gradient looked beautiful—it was the right idea to land on, for sure.

And how did the recycling sign in the middle of the field come about?

We wanted to drive home the point that we are recycling denim. It was 28 yards long!

When you do these projects how flexible do you have to be?

You have to have a really clear and concise plan. But it’s inevitable that something is going to change, or materials are going to react differently than anticipated, so there is definitely some flexibility required.

What was your process for finding hands to help?

We had 38 people, including my dad—he’s a die-hard 49ers fan! I had five team captains, each equipped with a walkie-talkie to communicate with their teams, what the game plan was at all times. Everybody was just excited to be on board for such a cool project, so it wasn’t hard to put together a great crew.

So when you arrived the pants were already on the field?

Yes—we had quite a pregame plan! We had different labels for the donation bins, so when we got the jeans they were already semi pre-sorted and we dropped them off at each yard line with a forklift depending on their shade.

What other materials were necessary?

Walkie-talkies, a bullhorn, good music, warm clothes, good food and a well thought-out plan.

How long did it take?

We started at 8 pm and ended at noon the next day. We had to time it between practices. I thought it would be beautiful to have the piece come to life as the sun was coming up, with the sky getting lighter as the jeans got lighter in color. That was a challenge. I kept running up and down the stairs trying to see if we needed to speed up or slow down.

Were you exhausted afterwards?

Yes, but we were on such an emotional high from creating this amazing and inspiring piece that it kept us going. Everyone was sore for the next few days, we basically did squats for 16 straight hours.

What was your favorite part of the project?

Being a part of something so magnificent with such a positive message that will be seen by so many people. So exciting! I kind of had to pinch myself.

What motivates you to do this work?

I love creating environments that have an uplifting message and installations that evoke positive emotions in people.

What are the challenges of working on such a large scale?

Most of the things we do haven’t been done before. It’s trial, error, and testing and prototyping. It is important to come up with a great process, have good communication and be open to new ideas and methods.

What is the craziest thing you’ve ever assembled?

The Field of Jeans actually.  If we did it over again, it would be a piece of cake, because we came up with an amazing process. These things are an intense challenge until you work together to figure out the best system, which is pretty much how it is with most things in life!

Field of Jeans at Levi's Stadium

You can follow Hannah Sitzer and Antlre on Facebook @AntlreCreative