Brotherly Love

William and Steven Ladd
Photographer: Dustin Aksland

As brothers and collaborators, artists Steven and William Ladd share more than just their jewel-box sized studio in Chelsea, which resembles a giant version one of the intricately beaded sculptures they are best known for. At their new solo show, “Mary Queen of the Universe,” opening this weekend at the Parrish Art Museum, the Ladds will unveil their latest work, a new sculpture series and performance based on their joint childhood touchstones. Here, a peek behind the scenes of their preparation. “Mary Queen of the Universe,” is on view at the Parrish Art Museum from October 26 to January 19.

Photographer: Dustin Aksland

William and Steven Ladd in their Chelsea Studio.

Photographer: Dustin Aksland

“It all started with these couture accessories we were making. We didn’t really know what direction it would take but it got to a point where we wanted to put the pieces in boxes, so Steven started making these really intricate fabric boxes, which we would stack and use to show collectors our work. And this process became a kind of performance.” -William

Photographer: Dustin Aksland

“With this show we are looking at the grade school we went to in St. Louis, which was called Mary Queen of the Universe, and all our memories from that time. It wasn’t until five or six years ago that we realized it was a strange name for a school.” -Steven

Photographer: Dustin Aksland

“We’ve been working on this show for about three years. The final piece is composed of all these miniature glass-beaded trees. There are about 900 of them in total.” -Steven

Photographer: Dustin Aksland

“We used to have a studio in Williamsburg, and then last June we moved here. In our old studio we had a bunch of separate rooms, so a lot of this stuff was separated, but then when we moved here it all had to come together and work harmoniously.” -William

Photographer: Dustin Aksland

“Right now we are using a lot of gold trinkets. I am really into the way the gold looks against the colored spirals.” -William

Photographer: Dustin Aksland

“A lot of our work is a response to materials that come into our life. Friends will send us fabric or beads, which will become a jumping-off point. For examples, these belts came from a factory that was shutting down.” -Steven

Photographer: Dustin Aksland

We’ve been making these glass-beaded forests for the last 15 years, and this is basically the life-sized version. We are prototyping this tree for a show in 2016.” -Steven

Photographer: Dustin Aksland

“We buy a lot of materials, but from what we buy we don’t want there to be any wasted. Take, for example, these paper beads that we’ve just started doing, which are made from the dust left over from cutting boarding. We want all of our materials to be completely broken down into the work.” -William


“In September of next year we are doing these rooms, which are going to be like confessionals. These panels will make up the walls as these kind of stained glass textiles. ” -William

Photographer: Dustin Aksland

“It takes him a month to loom one of these beaded panels.” -Steven

Photographer: Dustin Aksland

“We do such different things everyday. We come together to discuss what we want to be making, but then we work on our own. It’s an ideal balance.” -Steven