He learned to sew at the Kansas City Art Institute, where he was a 1982 graduate. He described his first garment as "very flamboyant pants and shirt with a harlequin sensibility." He said textiles immediately interested him for their expressive potential. But then so did dance. During college he began studying dance through an Alvin Ailey program, training in Kansas City during the year and New York one summer.
The twig Soundsuit, now in a private collection, was the first of hundreds. With the help of several assistants he has made suits out of everything from sisal to hundreds of plastic buttons topped by an abacus, one of many flea-market discoveries. Beads, sequins and feathers -- always sewn, never glued -- are also favorite materials. Some Soundsuits are made for performance; others go straight into the gallery system, mainly through the Jack Shainman Gallery in New York (where Soundsuits sold for $45,000 each in the winter of 2009).