The Haas Brothers, known for their provocative, amorphic and wildly colorful conceptual furnishings and mixed-media art, are set to debut a new line of collectible mini sculptures called Microfreaks, available through Sotheby’s Home this November. In keeping with the Haas Brothers’ remarkably singular approach, the Microfreaks Daybreak Collection is colorful, curious and distinctly them, but what sets this labor of love apart from the rest is the collaborative nature of the project itself—one rooted in community, craft and good old-fashioned friendship.
Lynda Resnick first met twin brothers Niki and Simon Haas through a mutual art dealer connection in Aspen, Colorado. They became fast friends. Then they got to talking. Resnick, a philanthropist, entrepreneur and co-owner of The Wonderful Company, also happened to be a long-standing collector of the brothers’ art. One day, Simon mentioned that he was having trouble fulfilling beading commissions with the South African women collective of artisans they were working with, because he couldn’t find anyone who could do the intricate beading method that he needed. Resnick suggested that they consider partnering with the talented women of Lost Hills, a community in California’s Central Valley that she holds dear to her heart.
The Central Valley is the epicenter of The Wonderful Company’s agricultural operations, a region that is home to 4,000 employees and their families. Located in the southern end of California’s Central Valley, the Lost Hills community was in need of financial and social development. For years, Resnick has been working to bring additional opportunities to the rural community in hopes of putting an end to the cycle of poverty and social isolation, through education, health & wellness and community building initiatives. She recognized that what the community lacked in resources was outweighed by the talent and ambition of its female members, many of whom she knew to be creatively inclined. “The women of Lost Hills are incredibly capable and fiercely determined. I knew that if we provided an opportunity for them to put their skills to use, we could transform their lives,” says Resnick. A friendship was quickly formed between Resnick and the Haas Brothers, along with a plan to enlist the artistic assistance of the wonderful women of Lost Hills, who would come to be known as the Haas Sisters.
“It was one of those magical moments when everything comes together. They were a perfect match.”
— Lynda Resnick, on connecting the Haas Brothers with the women of Lost Hills, California
The brothers officially began their work with the Haas Sisters in early 2018. They traveled to Lost Hills to meet with and train the women, all of whom were enthusiastic to learn about the artists’ intricate beading process; it came as no surprise at all that they were also extremely capable. “The beading itself requires a really high skill level; how quickly they picked it up, the voracity for it and how amazingly dedicated they are to the practice, it’s pretty phenomenal. There’s such passion for this type of work in Lost Hills,” share the brothers. The Haas Sisters were first tasked with beading large portions of sculptures included in the 2018 show at the Bass Museum in Miami Beach during Art Miami. After much success with the show and between the partnership of the Haas Brothers, Resnick and the Haas Sisters, Resnick and the Haas Brothers began ideating ways to provide continued economic opportunity for the women of Lost Hills. This is how the Microfreaks—a limited-edition, beautifully handcrafted collection of Lip Tide, Hot Shot and Dr. Licky, each with a developed backstory and personality—were born. The Haas Brothers stated, “From an aesthetic standpoint, Microfreaks are miniature versions of the type of beaded work that we’ve made in the past. We wanted to create something that would keep a group of people employed full-time and provide a new opportunity for them. We considered it an exciting design challenge, and inside of that framework, we went wild with our creatures’ aesthetics.” They were also conscious of wanting to create something that the Haas Sisters could work on at home while taking care of their families.
It’s highly common for artists to outsource work, but the Haas Brothers place much more value in collaborating with programs that provide work to capable people in need. Knowing whom to tap is key, which is why Resnick’s steadfast involvement with the Lost Hills community makes this collaboration so successful and enriching for everyone involved. Of Resnick, the Haas Brothers said, “We cannot overstate Lynda’s involvement in this project. She’s immensely creative…and deeply ingrained in the community of Lost Hills, which is also very special.” Resnick knew the women’s potential, the Haas Brothers had a need and the Haas Sisters were eager to contribute to something important that would allow for social and financial freedoms that many didn’t have at the time.
“I hope it reminds people of the amazing creativity and talent that can be found in rural towns all over America.”
— Lynda Resnick, on her hopes for the future of the Microfreaks and the Haas Sisters
Today, there are 26 fully employed Haas Sisters, many of whom have become the primary earners in their families and some who are now in a position to pay off debt and save for their children’s education. These strides are enormous for anyone, but for the women of Lost Hills, it’s a most-welcome relief. Says one Haas Sister, Rosibel, “It’s another income that’s coming into my home that doesn’t require a huge amount of time, just what we can do. I feel good, too, because I can provide for my children. Now, my daughter is in university.”
“These women always had the potential. They just needed someone to give them a chance.”
— Lynda Resnick, on the Haas Sisters of Lost Hills
“There’s an aesthetic origin for where our work begins, and then there’s a philosophical and personal origin that shines through in all of our work,” share the Haas Brothers. “We’ve put a lot of thought in our own studio about what it means to make artwork. An essential part of making art, rather than design or something functional, is that artwork needs to have social impact.”
It seems it’s another mission accomplished for the brothers, whose Microfreaks Daybreak Collection is available for purchase through Sotheby’s Home.