King Woman (Pen & Brush- NYC)

Hi there,

Last Thursday I attended the opening exhibition party for “King Woman” at Pen & Brush. This exhibition, featuring 25 emerging and existing female-identifying artists, spanned the two floors of the gallery on East 22nd Street. After taking in the paintings, photographs, and sculptures on the ground floor, I descended the industrial staircase to a lower level filled with more artwork (and a bustling bar serving both mimosas and chocolate chip sea salt cookies). It was incredible to see so many people at the opening- easily 300 or more. I have attended openings with significantly fewer visitors, perhaps due to the ease in which people may purchase art online. It is a testament to Pen & Brush’s importance as an institution that there were hundreds of people there to support, discuss, and buy the works of art.

Pen & Brush was founded in 1894 by an incredible painter named Janet C. Lewis who was frustrated by the exclusivity of the male-dominated literary and artistic scenes in New York City. For the past 123 years, Pen & Brush has served as both an incubator and and a platform for emerging and existing female talent.

It is only natural, then, that “King Woman” was curated by Mashona Tifrere. In 2016, Tifrere founded ArtLeadHER, an organization that mentors female artists. In the exhibition catalogue Tifrere writes, “[These artists show] that women can be more than Goddess or Queen: that they are capable of being the pinnacle of power and strength. That they are capable of being King.” She goes on to explain that the featured artists celebrate their gender, but are not confined by it. This point hits home for many women- haven’t we all been told at some point that we were pretty smart… for a girl? The artists in “King Woman” are talented, smart, creative, emotional, and powerful women. They celebrate their womanhood. Simultaneously, they are kings, and their gender is just one aspect of their rule.

* * *

I got the chance to speak more about this dual identity with Stephanie Hirsch. When asked about the tendency of female artists to become “pigeon-holed into a feminist camp” Hirsch explained how she was able to celebrate her womanhood without being labeled. “I think the stereotype of a feminist is inherently changing,” she wrote, “but I still think it has some pretty harsh connotations. I do not need to be harsh to get my message across. I use beautiful imagery and strong words as a juxtaposition. A woman can be beautiful and stand tall and proud in her peaceful power.” Hirsch’s work is not an expression of feminist discourse but a celebration of all aspects of femininity. It also delves into a variety of other themes, such as self-growth and spiritual exploration.

Indestructible (2016) epitomizes Hirsch’s perspective.

IMG_4851

With Indestructible, Hirsch has constructed a beaded garden wonderland. Leaves and flowers decorate the surface of the canvas, sprouting vibrant petals of red, purple, blue, and yellow. They sparkle in the light as one’s eyes travel the canvas,  making the experience of consuming Indestructible dynamic and ever-changing. The artist also includes the figure of a snake and that of a skull (the latter in the center bottom portion of the canvas). As Hirsch notes in the exhibition catalogue, gardens often symbolize personal growth. The combination of symbols indicating both life and death highlights this metaphor. As one develops physically, intellectually and emotionally, his spirit blossoms like a flower. However, there is temptation all around, shown here in the guise of a snake, a symbol established in Genesis. In the first book of the Bible, the snake tempts Eve to eat a forbidden apple which leads to man’s expulsion from the Garden of Eden. The snake is now synonymous with treachery and temptation. Secondly, the small beaded skull symbolizes the inevitability of death. Though the snake and the skull serve as contemporary memento mori (reminders of death), the overall message of Indestructible is not to live in fear of mortality. If anything, Indestructible reminds the viewer of the inevitability of the circle of life. Yes, life bears death, but death will surely give way for more life.

The presence of the superimposed title over the garden imagery underlines this concept. Flowers, snakes, and skulls are all ephemeral objects, but something here is indestructible. Hirsch writes that gardens within our souls experience a rotation of light and darkness. She emphasizes the fact that it is impossible for life to ever stay the same– one must come to terms with this and accept life for what it is. Perhaps the soul, then, is what is indestructible. The very existence of the garden- though its appearance may change- is everlasting.

And so, Indestructible reflects themes of self-growth and the life cycle. It references the female experience through the allusion to Adam & Eve, and perhaps the femininity of a garden scene, but its purpose is greater. The use of beads as a medium allow for the multiplicity of associations Indestructible bears. “I use beading intentionally for its literal and figurative depth,” wrote Hirsch, “and [for its] illumination to higher consciousness.”

 

You can read more about Stephanie Hirsch on her website, here.

* * *

I also really enjoyed the artwork of Azi Amiri, who I had the good fortune of talking to at the opening. Amiri is an Iranian artist whose work explores the expression and perception of Muslim identity. She focuses especially on how Muslim women are dehumanized in society. Take a look at the work she exhibited at “King Woman,” I Am A Dreamer (2012).

IMG_4845

And here are several details of the work:

IMG_4846

IMG_4847

IMG_4848

For I Am A Dreamer, Amiri wrote to her friends in Iran and asked them to send her photographs of themselves wearing a hijab. She then removed the faces and bodies from the images, leaving behind colorful hijabs wrapped around invisible faces. Each hijab is positioned differently and made of different colorful fabrics. As Amiri explained to me, women express their individuality through their hijab. She also described the rebellious way with which many women in Iran position their hijab, so that some of their hair is visible. According to Amiri, “The way you wear a scarf is the statement you make in a way that shows on which side of the game you are standing. Depending on how tightly you wear the scarf or how much hair you are revealing, you may affirm how much you approve the force behind the mandatory hijab.” Thus, choosing to reveal a lot of hair is a statement against the mandatory nature of the hijab. The women in I Am A Dreamer exist along a “spectrum of believers and non-believers,” revealing varying amounts of their hair. In this way Amiri used the hijab to communicate  the diversity of Muslim women.

Amiri also asked her friends to send a sentence, beginning with “I,” about themselves. Some of Amiri’s responses were simple and light-hearted (I am slowly falling asleep at the keyboard zzzzzzzz.) Others were poignant reinforcements of identity (I am confident enough to follow my heart.) These sentences reflect genuine human thoughts that are not exclusive to Muslim women. By including these universal thoughts beside images of Muslim identity, Amiri informs the viewer of the humanity and diversity of Muslim women. It is an important service she undertakes, as Muslim women are often dehumanized and de-individualized.

The effect of the work is powerful. It does not feel like an attack on the viewer for having preconceived prejudices. The colors are soft, the images are arranged in a balanced grid, and the words are written in a genial typeface. But the calmness with which Amiri communicates is precisely what gets through to even the densest of viewers. She pulls us in with the grid’s hypnotic nature and then hits us with the realization of our prejudices. In this way Amiri adeptly handles both the political and physical material of her work in order to communicate with her viewers.

 

You can read more about Azi Amiri’s work on her website, here. You will notice that she works in a wide range of styles, which I found fascinating. She works in printmaking, painting, drawing, sculpture, video, and digital mediums. Says Amiri, “Mediums are different containers for your thoughts and ideas… Those times that I just want to touch and feel the softness, whiteness, and smooth surface of a paper, I am not going to use anything else.”

If you’d like to work with Amiri, check out her art-making workshops at the Met. On November 4th she will be leading a free printmaking workshop at the World Culture Festival. Check it out!

* * *

When I descended the stairwell to the lower level I was instantly drawn to Lynn Spoor’s  Flower Path (2017). It was lit so beautifully the colors seemed to jump off the canvas. Take a look at this mesmerizing piece below:

IMG_4849

I looked at Flower Path before reading its title. The swaths of blue swept downwards with a palette knife reminded me of waterfalls and distorted reflections. I felt as if I were staring into the water beside a meadow, taking in the contents of the meadow through their reflections alone. Gone are the specificities of form. They are replaced by color, rippling through water with the aid of light.

When I spoke to Spoor, she was pleased to hear that Flower Path had conjured up such strong nature imagery. She then explained that she is from the Netherlands. Born in Beverwijk and residing now in IJmuiden, Spoor is surrounded by the colorful Dutch countryside. Her upbringing was marked by rainbow-colored tulips. On the surface, Flower Path is an abstract depiction of Dutch flora.

But there is much more at play here. Spoor has mixed acrylic paint with metallic silver and gold to create a dynamic surface texture. When hit with light, the metallic components of Flower Path glow, illuminating the entire painting. However, this is an effect which is felt rather than seen. I cannot pinpoint where exactly the patches of silver and gold have been added. They have been blended too well into the work as a whole. As a result, the glimmering canvas bears a mysterious quality. There is something at work here the viewer cannot understand which renders the work incandescent- perhaps it is divine.

The replacement of form with color is integral to the communication of Spoor’s emotional message. As it is written in the exhibition catalogue, “Reflecting [Spoor’s] energy and state of mind when painting, color will take precedence over shape, departing from the distraction of realism.” I sympathize with the notion that form can be distracting. Spoor’s colors are so rich in feeling; so liberated by the freedom with which they brush over the canvas. To contain them to rigid forms would rid them of their emotional volume.

Furthermore, the richness of Spoor’s colors and their freedom on the canvas reflect her desire to evoke positivity. “Today, it is a reflection of re-capturing and appreciating purity through [my] colors, brushstrokes and textures,” Spoor writes. “It is returning purity back into a world that has lost its way.” This idea is built off the underlying assumption that art can impact people’s feelings and actions. As a strong proponent for the ability of art to transform the viewer, I believe that Spoor’s vibrant canvases do have the capability to return positivity to a wayward society. It is impossible not to feel an overwhelming sense of light and happiness when gazing upon Flower Path. This is the sort of immense feeling needed to heal a broken world.

 

You can read more about Lynn Spoor on her website, here. You’re bound to come away from it feeling lighter and more at peace.

 

* * *

I also took great interest in the paintings of Renee Phillips. I had a full conversation with the woman standing next to me about how tangible Phillips’ canvases are. They make you want to dive into them and roll around in rivers of pastel-colored paint. Take a look at Meditation XXXII (2017) and I’m sure you’ll experience the same urge:

IMG_4860

Here are two close-up images of Meditation XXXII, if you weren’t already enticed. Note the clarity of color and variety of texture and depth:

IMG_4861

IMG_4862

Phillips was inspired to create the Meditations series during the pregnancy of her first child. I love the way Phillips described this experience in the exhibition catalogue, and I will quote it here:

“During pregnancy a profound internal shift was occurring. I found myself at the threshold of change; shedding old adolescent beliefs and habitual behavior. Raw emotion introduced clarity in thought and perspective; my once hard exterior was realized to be a facade, and a softness emerged that was grounded in true strength, authenticity, and love.”

I love this passage because it so clearly manifested itself in Phillip’s work. The nature of the enamel paint in Meditation XXXII is dynamic. It feels as if we have frozen time just as a wash of paint were being poured carefully over the canvas. It pools in places, following the laws of gravity and matter. The dynamism of the work reflects the spiritual and emotional growth Phillip’s underwent during a formative period. On the canvas, Phillips performs her own transformation. Furthermore, she performs the disruption of her old way of life. Layers of paint pile on top of one another, reflecting the build-up of experiences that have led to her present self.

I felt a very strong feminine energy exuding from Meditation XXXII. I started to see reconfigured female anatomy- was I imagining this? I questioned Phillips on the matter, and she told me that she uses her entire body to pour the enamel paint on her canvases. She referred to this movement as a sort of guiding “dance.” Thus, “the subconscious undercurrent of feminine energy in [that dance]” is what provided Meditation XXXII its intense feminist associations.

Additionally, Phillips ought to add “scientist” to her CV. When I asked about the extraordinary quality of her colors and textures, she revealed the scientific manner in which she studies paint before beginning her art-making dance. She spends hours taking notes on how paint dries depending on viscosity and temperature. Writes Phillips, “These studies help me further investigate time, gravy, and movement for each color so I know how to manipulate the paint on larger works.” She describes the experience as “peaceful and contemplative.”

The combination of dance, science, and painting in the creation of something beautiful exemplifies the power of the interdisciplinary. I am very passionate about incorporating art in the classroom, especially in conjunction with math and science. It was lovely to see a work incorporate a concept so near and dear to my heart.

 

You can read more about Renee Phillips on her website, here. In the meantime, I’ll leave you with another work from the “Meditations” series. Meditation IX (2017) is too beautiful to leave out.

IMG_4905IMG_4904

 

* * *

In the 1970s, Jane Olin was living in California, where male photographers like Ansel Adams were gaining recognition for their vistas of the western American landscape. Olin and her fellow female photographers fought to be included in gallery shows due to their supposed inferiority. Rather than cave to the “limits and rules” imposed by male photographers as the status quo, Olin formed a salon to support her fellow female photographers. In this environment, they thrived, breaking boundaries of photography and slowly securing themselves a place in the Monterey Bay art scene.

Today, Olin’s work reflects her personal experience fighting for recognition. It is deeply personal, and I am so pleased I got to hear her story to supplement my viewing experience.

Greta: A Woman’s Journey of Self Discovery (2017) is composed of four silver gelatin prints. Take a look:

IMG_4924

There is a very tangible tension to Greta. I believe it is a product of the figures’ evocative gestures and their intentional blurring. Greta is photographed in four installments. One version of Greta imagines her standing in a box, holding a square object in one hand. Another shows her recoiling slightly from the camera. A third is a nude torso. The last shows Greta clasping her mouth and wrist. It is only natural to question the purpose of these poses. And yet, the slight blurring of each image prevents the viewer from making full contact with each photograph. We are left in a constant state of curiosity, desperate to make sense of the emotional content spilling out of each work. We want to know who Greta is and how she feels.

I asked Olin about the figures’ gestures and blurry surface quality. She responded that Greta is a demonstration of women’s marginalization. Women have been trying to overcome their subordination for thousands of years. We are in a state of constant movement, as we try to move forward, and perhaps fall short of our ambitions due to external conditions. The soft, out of focus quality of the photographs represents this constant motion. This metaphor is complicated by the fact that the viewer does not know if the figures are coming in or out of focus. Is Greta moving towards her hopes and dreams, or is she in the process of being stifled? Olin asks, “Is Greta holding her hand over her mouth or is she finally pulling her hand away?”

The images represent various moments along Greta’s journey to find her voice in a world that asks her to be silent. The figure of a nude, standing tall with her shoulders back and her breasts pushed unabashedly forward, is delightfully positive. Her definitive gaze, meeting that of the viewer, is determined. Meanwhile, her position in a box demonstrates her mobility, and her recoiling from the camera reveals her instinctive response to fear.

Olin discovered the soft, out of focus quality that is central to Greta purely by accident. She neglected to refocus her enlarger in the dark room and her prints came out slightly blurry. “It felt mysterious to me,” said Olin, “I felt a visceral acknowledgment that this was how I wanted to print this body of work. I went back and reprinted the images that I had already printed in this way.  This printing method underscored how I feel about the process of empowerment and self-realization.”

 

This August, “Salon Jane” will exhibit the work of its six members at the Monterey Museum of Art. I am hoping to be there and see more of Olin’s evocative photographs. In the meantime, I will have to appease myself with her website, which you can explore here.

* * *

Lastly, I want to take some time to discuss Kharis Kennedy’s deeply moving Glove Scarf by Dolce & Gabbana (2017). Take a look:

IMG_4925 (1)

My eye goes first to the white gloves entangled around the figure’s face. Due to the red and brown markings on her neck, I assumed that the gloves were strangling her. When I asked Kennedy about this, she responded ambiguously. “I am interested in the physicality and energy inherent in not only our bodies,” she wrote, “but also in objects. I wanted it to be unclear whether her neck, a place of physical vulnerability, is being actively injured, or if her covering of [her injury] is incidental.” I love this response. It pinpoints what is so uncanny about this painting. The neck is an instinctively vulnerable body part- did you just touch your neck protectively? I did. Kennedy pairs this association with a seemingly innocent object- a pair of gloves. Suddenly, the gloves take on this monstrous image. Are there invisible hands inside, strangling her? Who on earth would strangle someone with gloves? Who would strangle her in the first place? The mind is a whirlwind of associations and anxiety regarding the personification of a pair of gloves.

My next thought when looking at Glove Scarf by Dolce & Gabbana was to consider the title of the piece. What could the name-dropping of this designer have to do with our protagonist? (Notice how I said “our.” In about .3 seconds I established a connection with this figure.) Kennedy’s art often explores “how clothing/fashion can be used as both a signifier of class and as a public expression of one’s inner world.” It is typical of Kennedy to satirize how fashion is used to construct both group and individual identities. With this in mind, the gloves bear additional associations. Perhaps Kennedy is suggesting that our protagonist is a victim of the stylistic trends that dictate her race, gender, and/or class? On the other hand, the nonchalant draping of these gloves around her neck, and their transformation into a scarf, could represent the proudness with which she has constructed her own individual identity. Her wide-legged seated position and upturned chin suggest this approach. Her stance is not unlike the many men who frequent the subway with each leg sprawled to the side. (Do they lack spatial awareness or just social awareness? Jury is still out). Our protagonist sits this way intentionally, to claim her own power. Both are appropriate readings, though I prefer the second. In an exhibition entitled “King Woman,” I think it’s most appropriate.

When I asked Kennedy about the possible reference, she responded that the connection was not intentional. However, her exploration of the female gaze situates Glove Scarf in the same vein as these past works. There remains a key difference that identifies Kennedy’s work as the most contemporary- her agency. Olympia’s agency in Manet’s titular painting is often debated. While her razor-sharp gaze zeroes in on the viewer, her obvious occupation as a courtesan suggests only an illusion of self-sufficiency. Kennedy’s protagonist is also in a state of undress for ambiguous reasons. However, as Kennedy writes, “What is known is that she accepts her vulnerable state and through acceptance remains empowered.”

I was also struck by the presence of the black cat. It reminded me of the many manifestations of the female nude shown with an animal. Note this trend in Titian’s Venus of Urbino and Manet’s Olympia.

I feel this truth in her petulant upturned chin, her refusal to make direct eye contact, and her wide-legged stance. Her independence manifests itself in black stiletto heels and red underwear- markers of both seduction and power. The black cat- her spirit animal, as Kennedy says, looks out at the viewer. We haven’t been given the chance to turn away before the black cat crosses our path; She is in control.

You can read more about Kharis Kennedy on her website, here

* * *

I hope you enjoyed this analysis of several key works in “King Woman.” It has been wonderful delving into the works of these six artists. Their artwork touched me and the way they discussed their artwork compelled me to share their artwork with you. If you’ve been as moved by this series as I have been, please follow up on the artists exhibited in King Woman. The following are the remaining (incredible) artists, whose work contributed to the triumph that is King Woman.

Ingrid BaarsHunter Clarke, Donna FestaCarole FeuermanLola FlashKit Kang, Meredith MarsoneLacey McKinneyYvonne MichielsReisha PerlmutterTrixie PittsA.V. RockwellVictoria SelbachSwoonTaïraRoos van der Vliet, Elizabeth Waggelt, and Lynnie Z. 

Thanks to all of the artists who shared their art and their words with me. Thank-you also to Dawn Delikat, Lani Doktori, and Janice Sands at Pen & Brush for sharing the story of Pen & Brush with me.

Until next time!

xoxo,

Chloe ❤

CHloe

 

Advertisements

Spotlight on Clayton Woolery

I first encountered Clayton Woolery in a basement on Ossipee Road by Tufts University, during his performance Removing Targets in our final Pokykhroma exhibition. I had been unfortunately under the weather for his previous performance with Polykhroma, so I was delightfully in the dark about Woolery’s work. All I knew was what the other curators had told me– that his work was both simple and complex, utilizing simplistic, repetitive movements to unravel multifaceted ideas. Removing Targets was no exception.

He began by unpacking a large plastic shopping bag and setting up its contents on the floor. Woolery brought with him a mental contraption, a long stretch of green Ikea packing paper, white paste, and folded clothing, amongst other items. He then began setting up the paper on the contraption, so that the front of the paper was stretched across the metal and onto the floor in neat folds. Then, the writing commenced. Take a look:

IMG_1514

Woolery would write in thick, capital letters on the stretch of paper until a certain amount had been filled with words. He then removed the paper and stood to attach it to the posterior wall.

IMG_1517

By the end of the evening, Woolery himself was caged within the metal contraption, layers and layers of inscribed paper all over the walls and floor of the space. Phrases such as “REMOVING ENGLISH” and “BURY ME” overwhelmed both his figure and the space, taking on a louder voice than the harsh din of the exhibition opening occurring behind him.

IMG_1534

The entire experience was mesmerizing. Woolery moved with a quiet fluidity, seemingly unaware of voyeurs. There were six other (wonderful) concurrent exhibitions and more than fifty people in the basement at time, but Woolery remained in his space, only concerned with the world he was building on plaster and stone. A small group of us stood for long stretches of time, watching him. It felt meditative to follow his smooth, repetitive movements. The build-up of materials also carried a hypnotic weight. The more Woolery himself was covered up in paper the more I craved an understanding of these cryptic texts. Simultaneously, the more I attempted to decode these texts, the less alphabetical they seemed. Though they signified what I instinctively knew those words to mean, their entire meaning became clouded. The sheer amount of words made it difficult to zero in on one verbal idea. Instead, the entire mass of words seemed to be the subject; the concept of language as a whole.

After the show, I was eager to hear more from Woolery about Removing Targets. It had been a spellbinding experience for me, but I was curious if my interpretation matched what Woolery had walked into Ossippee Road hoping to impart on viewers. I also had many questions about his perspective on the art world– after all, millennial/Gen Z artists are carving out the future of art-making and consumption.

We met for tea at Diesel Cafe and discussed all the above. It was important to me to connect with Woolery on a human level. If we involve technology in every interaction we have, we dilute their importance int he moment. It can come to feel like every action we take is made for the purpose of documentation. And so, my conversation with Woolery was unrecorded. It flowed naturally in all directions, leisurely making its way around to all my questions.

I followed up with an email asking Woolery to answer questions that related to our discussion the day before. And so, before you is a condensed version of our free-form conversation at Diesel Cafe. Read on to discover the truth behind Removing Targets and the details of Woolery’s artistic practice.

* * *

CH: Tell me more about your performance piece at Polykhroma! What inspired it? What were you hoping to accomplish? I’d love to detail for my readers your explorations with language.

CW: Removing Targets stems from a longer term incrimination of language that inflects my art practice.  Embedded in every language are the cultural mores of the society developing that language, and American English is a prime example. From polarized gender expression to phonaesthetic regimes (i.e. “this is america: speak english!”) even the most radical explorations of meaning making must tread the fraught space of language, which flattens the relationship between signifier and signified. I first came in touch with these ideas in the context of queer theory and incorporate them into an abject, provisional art ethics.

In performing a durational “exorcism” of language I wanted to explicitly place myself and my presentation of myself in the paradoxical dimension of western ideas of utopia/dystopia. I caged myself in my nicest clothes, accompanied by many indicators of conspicuous consumption (swell bottle, DSLR, tablet, “Madewell” bag) and began to work tirelessly unpacking these contents from a laundry bag that illustrates a certain cluttered world view in the form of a red, white, and blue target.  In truth the material elements of the performance are selected specifically but treated anonymously— the experience of the performance, im sure, was that of watching a hunched, billowing scribe attack long swaths of green ikea packing paper.

The language I graft, paradoxically, too, was a free form treatise on how best to achieve utopia, a line of thinking that quickly falls apart. I was left to sift through my tattered science fictions and face the apparent long-windedness white men are afforded in magisterial and abject spaces. Here I’ve gone on for so long!


CH: How did your work change once you got into the space?

CW: Performance art in my experience always feels like a circus I am stubbornly staging alone. It was important in terms of labor and exhaustion for the actor in this piece to be myself, and therefore I didnt want to have myself elevated or removed in my original conception of the work.

When viewing “Art” people have accepted the training of galleries and museums and, in this scenario, even being in a basement could not counteract the formation of spectacle. The work became highly dissociative, with a clear ring of people several feet from me. I felt no ability or desire to draw them closer, and allowed this to free me from attempting to be legible in the ways I had planned to be.  I let the action take center stage and released myself from an obligation to posture their experience. It became about execution and in many ways simplified helpfully the extravaganza of content i had prepared.

(Quick note: I was a dedicated member of the ‘ring of people’ watching. I can attest to the strange energy between performer and voyeur during Woolery’s performance. It is true that he made no attempt to invite us in, in fact seemed completely oblivious to our existence, and yet we were too mesmerized to turn away. What resulted was  an uneasy balance, like a rope tied tightly between two points, vibrating from the tension.)


CH: We talked about how your work bridges the gap between wall-painting and performance art, as you enact the application of art to wall surfaces. Tell me more about this middle ground you’ve created.

CW: The terminology that is sticking the most for the work I’m doing is “performed composition.” I am presenting a collection of abject materials and material applications that deliver a sense of provisional and incomplete gestures, thus opening a space for this completion to occur in the form of live or instructional interventions.  This then creates a space beyond indication for the labor of creativity — you see the activity of painting in a Pollock, but never is that labor performed and examined as the painting itself.  This is to say that painting is an action and never an object. Furthermore, such actions that result in aesthetic (performative) objects are yet another form of labor.  I am highlighting a critical need for a reevaluation of labor.  Who is doing the work that makes this industry possible? What meaning can be derived from being delusional about this labor, and the cost of supporting the arts but not the artists? The space is really one that seeks to excavate work from an artwork, and place it coyly in the gallery.  It is also a post-studio space that problematizes ideas of finish and rarification that make the art world a beacon for ridicule.


CH: What generally inspires you creatively? Who are your influences?

CW: Creativity is a box full of lenses with which seeing can be filtered.  I get inspired when I am able to identify something between two previously separate elements that the lens of poetry, theory, activism, etc. may make apparent.  So it can be anything, most often occurences in my daily life are the beginnings of my favorite pieces. There can’t be an end or border on the creative practice.  But these thoughts have sources, such as Joseph Beuys and J. Jack Halberstam.  I take particular interest in and support works by established artists such as Sarah Sze, Janin Antoni, and Edgar Arceneaux, as well as emerging artists like Jesse Kanda and Puppies Puppies.


CH: What do you think is the role of the artist in society today? How do you see yourself fitting into that role?

The artist has an identity crisis on their hands.  Some art theorists and practitioners believe, as Donald Judd put it, that the ideal artist is “original and obdurate; they’re the gravel in the pea soup.” However this breaking of homogeneity operates from a space of art as a service for or against society rather than as a labor intrinsic to it. Do artists seek harmony or discord, and is seeking either through art only a swinging pendulum? I am inticed by more collective action in the art world, allowing for the tyranny of the artist-ego (Foucault’s “author-function”) to be subsumed into a symbiotic relationship with radically earthy art institutions.  I am wanting everyone to feel inclined to say “I am an artist” or at least understand the importance of establishing an ecosystem for the consumption and recapitulation of art.


CH: What do you think is the role of the curator in society today? We discussed how positive the dialogue was between artist and curator in the Polykhroma exhibit. Tell me more about how you envision the relationship between the two to be.

CW: Developing an active and attentive community that balances artist and audience, resources and risks, taste and tact, has always been the admirable and impossible task of curators.  Igniting an appreciation for engagement with ideas is crucial; placards and pacing and replication of the white cube, however, are hindering this endeavor.  Curators must really open artists, technicians, and audiences to the possibility of doing things differently than how they believe they must do them, and in turn reap unexpected and surprising results in the pursuit of inventive solutions to the problem of the gallery.


CH: We talked about spectacle art and blockbuster exhibits. Tell me a bit more about your thoughts on this trend. 

CW: I have heard about 15 different takes on the Whitney Biennial. As someone who decided, in light of the protests of Black Americans against the showing of Dana Schutz’ Open Casket, to abstain from visiting as an act of solidarity, I have yet to hear a review that is positive and descriptive.  People no longer know why they go see the things they go see. Institutional loyalty precludes the mass acceptability of exhibitions— and there is money to be made.   And we see even further surreal elements of the same show: Katy Perry promoting her singles by hiding beneath a silver serving tray to the beguiled response of visitors to the Whitney, who have paid $18-$25 dollars to believe they are spending an afternoon devoid of such marketing. In late capitalism this form of collective cognitive dissonance is not surprising. Art cannot settle for its current place as a condensation of social-media-informed modes of escapism/inspiration. There is no community, no real stakes, only a self-aware act of conspicuous consumption.

(Quick Note: Dana Schutz is a white female artist whose graphic depiction of violence against black bodies was included in the Whitney Biennale. This created a huge controversy last year. Read more here.)


CH: You told me about your desire to participate in a larger artist collective. Tell me more about that! What would this entail ideally? How has your knowledge of past collectives informed this decision? 

CW: Ideally it would entail utilizing technology at hand to create an engaging and accessible space of committed and regular collective creative practice. I’m talking rotating collaborations, conference presentations of ideas, and streamlined collective decision making. These goals could be achieved through first a smaller team of people that develop this space as an inaugural iteration of this. I am wanting an art government, essentially! One that erases borders that limited collectives of the past through open enrollment and collaborative spirit. In addition, I am seriously interested in the VR potential for exhibition “space” and making the production of the collective as public as possible.

In reality, a collective could exist just attempting to illustrate this ethereal realm i’ve dreamt up in the paragraph above.


CH: What are your thoughts on the Boston art scene?

CW: I am still exploring it, but do believe that it does not know how to incorporate the energy of young artists into a cohesive space with the galleries and museums here.  I do think art institutions are strong but almost entirely leashed to their percieved clientele (students, brahmins, etc) rather than to a specific goal or movement of art.

That said, I am particularly impressed by organization in the audiovisual scene and believe there is potential in a coming together of music, visual art, and tech-savvy creatives.  Boston holds back so many potential convergences, the social structure is made of countless interlocking bubbles and such social carbonation is disorienting and difficult to navigate.


CH: What are your thoughts on art at Tufts?

CW: There is certainly a great deal of potential in the hands of an administration that has very little track record in pushing for an integration of art on or for campus.  I find the estrangement between creative student organization and adequate resources to be a hurdle in need of overcoming before this potential may be accessed. 

I would say many things are special for what they are. Maker spaces like Crafts Center have been influential in my appreciation for collectivism in art; the museum school has yet to lose its radical energy for me in the wake of all the money suddenly coming its way.   I deeply cherish the flash collective I participated in with Avram Finkelstein in 2015 that resulted in the billboard on the Lower Campus Center lawn, despite it no longer existing.


CH: What’s next for art? Where do you see artistic trends going in the next few years?

CW: I see event based art organizing at critical mass: controversy in other creative arenas such as Fyre music festival and Noma Mexico luxury dining display a serious tone-deafness to global issues of disparity and neglect. In its wake all sorts of radical activity could take an unexpected center stage.  I would be very keen to see socially engaged art practices recieve more coverage and be more fully inducted into the canon of art as artists working in this way such as Pablo Helguera and Paul Ramirez Jonas are allowing people to feel welcome in the art world that may previously have been disenfranchised.  I am also for an art world that empowers and better documents performance artists and art of protest.

* * *

 Thank-you so much to Clayton Woolery for participating in Polykhroma Presents: Utopia/Dystopia and for sharing your ideas with me (both over tea and email!)

To my readers: I hope you enjoyed reading Woolery’s insights into art and its global significance. It was especially exciting for me to take part in this conversation after seeing his work live. Woolery will be exhibiting his work next spring in a thesis exhibition at the SMFA. In the meantime, check out his instagram to keep up with his work. And if you find yourself in the Boston area, keep a look out for exhibitions occurring through Polykhroma. There’s a good chance you’ll catch a performative piece by the hypnotic artist, Clayton Woolery.

Until next time!

xoxo,

Chloe ❤

OBEY presents:”Covert to Overt” (Melkweg Expo- Amsterdam)

Hey everyone,

I’m pretty stoked to show you some photographs I took at the opening of OBEY presents: “Cover to Overt” at Melkweg Expo in Amsterdam. It was really exciting for several reasons.

Firstly, I’m a big fan of Shepard Fairey, the artist whose works are photographed in this exhibition. If you don’t recognize his name, you’ll probably recognize his immensely popular clothing line, OBEY, characterized by a rectangle of solid color with the word “OBEY” printed on top. This idea originated in 1989, when Fairey was studying art at RISD. He began a street art campaign called “Andre the Giant Has a Posse,” in which images of the famous wrestler and his dimensions were printed on stickers, then distributed by the skater community all over the country. The phrase caught on, and was appropriated into mainstream culture through these stickers, as well as in everyday speech. It spurred the creation of several documentaries as well . As a result of the image’s popularity, Fairey faced a lawsuit for using the name of a trademarked athlete. And so Fairey brilliantly turned his idea on its head: he simplified the face of Andre the Giant, and changed the catchphrase to “OBEY,” mocking the very system that created its existence. This new motif became Fairey’s trope- he modified it and enlarged it and transformed it for different surfaces all over the United States. He then branched into graphic design, and from there, skate ramps and high school hallways were  blessed with the iconic OBEY flat-brimmed hats and t-shirts. Today he continues to design clothing and create artwork, both on the street and in galleries. It is very exciting to see an exhibit that reflects Fairey’s journey from covert college student printing ironic stickers and getting arrested for destruction of property, to a celebrated artist and clothing designer who is famous for the famous “Hope” poster of Obama from the 2008 election.

I am also very excited to talk about “Covert to Overt” because I really like exhibits that view an artist’s work through a different (pun intended) lens. Last year, Fairey showed a series of paintings at the Jacob Lewis Gallery in NYC, and at the Art Center in Pasadena, his street art was displayed alongside other outdoor installations in “OutsideIn.” “Covert to Overt” explores Fairey’s street art through a photographic lens; that of photographer Jon Furlong.  Furlong has accompanied Fairey for the last ten years, snapping photos of the artist and his work as both have developed and transformed. It is fascinating to see how photography adds even more meaning to Fairey’s work. Furlong’s use of framing and light makes these photographs works of art in their own right.

Here are some of my favorite works from this exhibit. As you look, pay attention to the color scheme and motifs Fairey uses. Also note how big or small the art is in relation to the rest of the photograph. Look at what here is Fairey’s art, and what is Furlong’s. How do the two play off each other?

IMG_4863

“Obey. Never trust. Your own eyes believe what you are told.” This eye, filled with tiny whirring particles, seems to look blankly into the soul of the viewer. Its lack of a central pupil lends it a hypnotized appearance. Fairey seems to be suggesting that we are hypnotized as well, brainwashed by some unspeakable “they” who controls what we see. Perhaps this “they” is the government, or the media.

Beside this poster lies a black and white city. Juxtaposed with this sign, the city looks barren and and cold. There is no one on the street and the sky is a wash of overcast whiteness. The elevated position of the viewer above the city also suggests an all-knowing presence. If we can look down upon this city and see everything, does that mean we are always being watched as well?

* * *

IMG_4864

“This has been called to your attention so you will know that it has not been overlooked: PEACE.” A giant red arrow draws the eye leftward, to where these words are printed beside a trippy-looking image of Andre the Giant, enclosed in a patterned circle. The artwork itself seemed to me to be a scathing commentary on how difficult it is to get the world- especially the first-world- to focus on peace-making. It quite literally takes a red arrow on the highway to grab people’s attention.

This image, already eye-catching and powerful in its message, is even more impactful when seen in the context of this photograph. The sky captured by Furlong is immense, highly detailed and deeply saturated. The clouds seem to reach back into the sky for miles into an infinite horizon. This framing of the sky reminds the viewer of the space he or she is present in. Space is more than just the several meters from one’s car to Fairey’s sign. Space extends for miles beyond where we can see. With this photograph, Furlong reminds us that peace is not really peace unless everyone under every sky can feel it. “Attention” calls the viewer out on being materialistic and selfish, while Furlong’s photograph forces the viewer to empathize with people who exist in different spaces.

* * *

IMG_4865

This is a beautiful shot of Fairey at work on a mural. I like how the mural’s asymmetry contrasts with the symmetry of the two black poles in the foreground. I also like how Fairey’s clothing emphasizes his trademark red, white, grey, and black color scheme. The sharp lines of the ladder and the poles create a visual dialogue with the swirling mural.

* * *

IMG_4868

I also really like this personality shot of Fairey with what looks like a black eye. He stares at the viewer with an unreadable expression. I cannot tell if he is confronting the viewer or attempting to model in some fashion. I am not surprised that Fairey would pose in such an ambiguous way. His art is about challenging societal norms and questioning why things are the way they are. Why should a self-portrait be any different? Why should he reveal himself to the viewer in a truthful way, when so much of the world is masked by media and coded with false meaning?

Furlong cuts off the side of Fairey’s arm. This framing draws attention to Fairey’s face and his black eye, which gives the artist an aura of toughness. He looks like the ultimate “cool guy,” which I find funny because Fairey’s art is about the misrepresentation of people and things in the media. Perhaps Fairey and Furlong were using Fairey’s person as a canvas to make a statement about image and identity.

* * *

IMG_4874

This mural depicts the corner of a women’s face and a tear rolling down her cheek. The tear contains a dollar sign. The phrase “OBEY” can also be found on her forehead, climbing down her eyebrow. I like how this image was placed on the side of a building closer down to the ground. It means that the average passerby can see this image, and question its intention. The allusion to money and sadness suggests a commentary on consumerism and capitalism, or perhaps materialism. Is this woman crying because she doesn’t have enough money? If so, is this because she is greedy or because she is in need, because of “the system” or because of her own material tendencies? We are not given enough information to make an informed conclusion, but Fairey raises a multitude of questions worth pondering with this work. Perhaps my biggest takeaway is: our society forces us to view money in a particular way. The cost of living in most places is so high that, if we do not obey the economic system outlined by society, we find ourselves left behind.

I like how Furlong narrows in on this mural rather than stepping back to see it in its context. This way, focus remains on the message of the mural. One could say that the message becomes even more glaringly obvious, and its effect even more intense, due to the framing of the image.

* * *

IMG_4875

I like this simpler work that uses spray paint as a material and a brick wall as a surface.  The depiction looks hastily painted, as if Fairey was being chased. Given the laws surrounding painting on public property, that isn’t totally unfeasible. But it is also possible that Fairey intentionally painted “Hello Obey” in a haphazard manner  1.to cover a large amount of ground with his work in a short period of time 2.to allude to the time pressure reinforced by a  capitalist society 3. because he wanted to and overanalyzing is counter-productive. These are all possible interpretations. Do you have any other ideas?

* * *

IMG_4876

Here’s a snapshot of Fairey in the middle of painting a mural. His stance and facial expression are playful. I like seeing something light-hearted after a series of slightly paranoid responses to authoritarian society. Even the scaffolding he uses to reach high surfaces is red. The car in the background is red. I am beginning to wonder if Fairey is physically capable of seeing colors other than black, white, and red.

* * *

IMG_4885

Lastly, this was my favorite photograph in the entire exhibit. It made it onto my Instagram (shameless plug: chloelikescrumpets. Follow me!) and it’s become the go-to image I show people when i tell them I went to “Covert to Overt.”

This image reads: “Giant cured all my obedience problems!” Giant refers to Andre the Giant, the wrestling figure i referred to in the beginning who inspired the OBEY motif. Now, I’ll be honest. I’m not entirely sure what Fairey is trying to say here- and I think that’s ok. As Fairey said in an interview with Loud Paper, ” When people don’t know what something is, they feel threatened by it.” So, I’m not going to shy away from talking about my favorite work just because I cannot fit it neatly into an analytical box.

All I can really do is take what I do know about Fairey’s inspirations and social concerns and try and relate them to this image. In several other works I showed here, Fairey made commentary on the brainwashing of the media and the watchfulness of the government. The issues seem huge and out of any individual’s control. And so, referring to Fairey’s concerns as “obedience problems” could be a humorous understatement. Stating that “Andre,” which seems synonymous to me with the OBEY brand, could have solved those problems simply by existing, is even funnier. What I take from this poster, then, is that Fairey is being self-deprecating about the importance of his brand. The work underlines the need for action on many fronts: wearing an OBEY flat-brimmed hat is great, but taking political action would be better.

Again, let me know if you gathered something different from this work, or have heard Fairey discuss this particular motif. I am really curious about what Fairey intended it to mean.

* * *

“Cover to Overt” is an incredible exhibit. I am so happy I was able to see it here in Amsterdam. Melkweg Expo did a great job at the opening- the DJ played relaxing but upbeat tunes while visitors sipped free beer and perused the photographs. Signed copies of “Covert to Overt,” the exhibition book, were sold in the corner for sixty euro. Were I not a twenty year old college student who compares bread prices, I would have immediately bought one. I did get a chance to read the preface and the introduction, and it looks like a very thoughtfully-written book. I am really interested in reading more about Fairey and his political/social beliefs.

Here’s a snapshot of the event:

IMG_4880

And here’s a great shot of my friend looking at a display of photographs.

IMG_4878 (1)

And here are three more pictures, if you’d like to try and extract meaning from them, and fit them into Fairey’s narrative:

IMG_4870IMG_4872IMG_4873 (1)

As always, thanks for reading! It makes me so happy every day to see that people all over the world are checking out CanvasAndCrumpets, and searching for ways to make their lives a little more artistic, and a whole lot more beautiful.

Until next time!

 

xoxo, Chloe ❤

 

 

!Women Art Revolution (Film Huis Cavia-Amsterdam)

Last night I went to a screening of !Women Art Revolution at Film Huis Cavia in Amsterdam. It was easily the best movie I have seen all year. It was so good that my friends and I spent the next three hours talking about how the legacy of the feminist art revolution lives on today. The documentary was made in 2010 by Lynn Hershman Leeson, but it has been an ongoing project of Leeson’s for the past forty years.  !Women Art Revolution details the rise of the feminist art revolution in the 1960s and its development throughout the rest of the 20th century. It is an oral history, as well as a series of interviews featuring female artists, curators, and art historians. These interviews have been conducted over the past forty years- it was a unique and special experience to hear these women, some of whom have since passed away, speak about their experiences. Throughout the hour and a half of this incredible film, I was exposed to fifty years of history I had embarrassingly been devoid of in my artistic education. 

How awful is it, that I had only ever heard of TWO of these artists? I had studied Judy Chicago’s “Dinner Party” in AP Art History in high school, and bought Miranda July’s book,”No One Belongs Here More Than You,” from the Strand Bookstore. But the names Howardena Pindell, Faith Ringold, Miriam Schapiro, Barbara Kruger, and many, MANY more, were completely new to me. I hadn’t even heard of the Guerrilla Girls, an anonymous group of female artists who protested discrimination and sexism in the art world while wearing gorilla costumes. Their humorous posters and literal guerrilla tactics raised awareness about these issues and put political pressure on artistic institutions to be inclusive of women and artists of color. When the Whitney put on a show featuring exclusively male artists, the Guerrilla Girls created a fake press release on Whitney stationary, exclaiming how proud the institution was to be presenting the first exhibition in New York City including 50% female artists. I could not believe I had never heard of this group of activists. I also could not believe I had never heard the tragedy of Ana Mendieta, a Cuban feminist artist who fell to her death from the window of her 34th floor apartment in 1985. It was widely believed that her husband, famous MALE contemporary artist Carl Andre, was responsible for her murder. As !Women Art Revolution points out, Andre’s contemporaries refused to speak against him. He was eventually acquitted, leading to a series of protests in Mendieta’s honor, in which posters of Mendieta’s face and the words, “Where is Ana? Ask Carl!” were scattered all over Andre’s work at the Guggenheim. 

Of course, I have to recognize that I have not taken a course in contemporary art yet, and it is possible that these artists are textbook requirements today. All of my contemporary art knowledge has come from my personal exploration in books, articles, and museum/gallery visits. However, there is something to be said for name recognition. So many male artists of the same era have penetrated the bubble of academic art history to the point where they are recognizable to the general public. Jean-Michel Basquiat, Damien Hirst, Jeff Koons, Sol Lewitt, Frank Stella… the male artists who were creatintat the same time as Ana Mendieta and Lynn Hershman are ENGRAINED in my mind. I know all of their names, so why don’t I know these women’s names?

This is why we still need feminism. The art world has definitely become more progressive. Lisa Yuskavage, Yayoi Kusama, and Marina Abramovic are three of my favorite artists. Marcia Tucker, who is interviewed in !Women Art Revolution, founded the New Museum to exhibit the work of living artists, including many incredible female artists. But the art world- the way art is exhibited and the way art history is taught- still has a long way to go. As !Women Art Revolution pointed out, omission is dangerous for the legacy of female artists. It directly leads to eradication. In one chilling segment of the film, an unseen interviewer asked passerby outside the Whitney, “Can you name three female artists?” Embarrassed people stutter and mumbl before finally offering, “Frieda Khalo?” as their only answer. The age-old practice of omitting female artists while they are alive has led to their eradication from collective memory. The feminist artists of the 60s and 70s fought for their work to be included in galleries and institutions. !Women Art Revolution reports that exhibitions of exclusively white-male artists remained popular in the United States through the 1990s. Leeson and her contemporaries describe stories in which gallery-owners repeatedly refused to represent them . One artist described an experience in which she was forced to get on her hands and knees to present her portfolio to a male gallery director, a humiliation surely no male artist was ever forced to endure. Another recounted a time when a buyer returned a painting to her when he found out she  was female, because he said the work had no market value. Today, circumstances are different. Women are not omitted from galleries and institutions. But we cannot forget the work of the feminist artists that we stand on today. We cannot allow these artists and their works to be omitted from history, or we risk their eradication entirely. 

And so, I urge you to find this film on the internet, and donate to !WAR here. 

The only way to prevent omission and eradication is by continuing to spread the work of female artists and information about their lives. Here are some links for further reading:

I hope that you check out these links and are also inspired to do more reading on your own.  After all, I have only scratched the surface with these artists. There are so SO many more to learn from.

If you happen to be in Amsterdam, Film Huis Cavia will be playing !Women Art Revolution again tonight at 8:30 PM! Tickets are 15 euro. 

Until next time! 

 

xoxo, Chloe ❤ 

 

 

Visions of China (The Metropolitan Museum of Art- NYC): Special Event

On Monday night, the Met opened from 8-10 pm for college students to enjoy the new “Visions of China” exhibit, as well as food, drinks, and music. I think everyone between the ages of 18 and 22 in NYC was at the Met on Monday night- THAT’S how packed it was. But it was beautiful to see the Met all lit up in pink and purple. It was also fun to have an excuse to get all dressed up with friends and take pics! My girlfriends and I showed up in all black (whoever said orange/beige/slate/maroon is the new black is clearly deluded).

IMG_0291   IMG_0292  IMG_0307

All around the lobby, servers handed out steamed pork buns. Probably a highlight of the evening. We made our way past the DJ booth and into the incredible new Visions of China exhibit.

Visions of China explores Orientalism as a positive cultural response to the West’s interactions with the East. It attempts to diminish the binaries that have defined the western-eastern relationship (The west being appropriative and superior, the east being authentic and fetishizied). Visions of China does not try to erase the detrimental effects of Orientalism and the racist “otherness” that it created. It examines the relationship from a more objective perspective in order to see that aspect as only a part of a larger process through which there were positive creative results. What is left after these binaries are scraped down is a two-way conversation between two parts of the world, and the creative dialogue that ensues.

In all of these rooms, ancient Chinese statues and tools are placed next to clothing that has been, in some way, inspired by Chinese culture. Some are high-end designer pieces, and others are dresses from movie sets. Some were designed by Chinese designers, and others are not. The juxtaposition of old and new is at times very beautiful, when the source of a design is very clear. At other times it seems like an anachronism of time and space, especially when hoards of girls in heels pose in front of Chanel gowns, but not ancient Bodhisattvas. At times like these, the sources seem to fade into the background. I would like to come back on another day when the crowds are smaller to take some time and really look at the ancient works, picking apart the details that have been woven into silk dresses.

Here are some highlights from the exhibit:

IMG_0300

A british designer, Craig Green, put together this look that is displayed between glass impressions of bamboo. Lit from within, the glass shines brightly white, contrasting strongly with this dark ensemble. The white bamboo forest take over much of the first room.

***

IMG_0305

Behind the bamboo forest stands this Bodhisattva from the Shanxi Province. It was created between the years 550 and 600. The jewels cascading from the Bodhisattva’s neck foreshadow the incredible jewelry in the rest of the exhibition, and demonstrate a source for its inspiration. It’s  massive size serves as a foil for the technologically impressive bamboo forest several feet away. It is impossible not to look back and forth between the two, mentally searching for a connection.

***

IMG_0319

A gown by Guo Pei, a Chinese designer.

IMG_0320   IMG_0321   IMG_0325

The petals on this dress echo the sweeping curves of the fabric adorning the surrounding statues. The rich color and ornate pattern of the fabric echo the surface of these statues as well. Even the pedestal of this particular statue bears the circular motif woven into the surface of Pei’s gown. Both the gown and the statue exhibit a tight bodice in addition to the flowing fabric that covers the rest of the body.

***

IMG_0330

 

Here is a headpiece designed by Alexander McQueen. It is inspired by a Chinese garden. It does not even seem as much an inspiration as a direct translation of a scene that McQueen saw in person or in a book, and carefully reproduced. The fancifulness of the scene is at home as a whimsical headpiece, physically encircling the realm of the imagination.

 ***

There is an entire room dedicated to the Chinese actress Anna May Wong, whose career bounced between playing the Lotus character and the Dragon Lady. Such limited roles did not diminish her star power. She went back to Europe after exhausting Hollywood and became a muse for more avant grade artists. Some of her gowns are shown, though they were very difficult to photograph (all the more reason for you to go!). Here is a terrible picture of a gorgeous costume:

IMG_0338

The exhibit places a photograph of Anna wearing this exact dress right above it, as if she is looking down on her legacy from up above. Photographs near the ceiling also create another dimension in this exhibit, emphasizing the circular nature of the western-eastern relationship.

***

IMG_0341

This is my FAVORITE dress in the entire exhibit. It is Chanel, which makes sense when you see the classic lines, tiny pleating, and (obviously) the use of black and white. The surrounding walls are lined with ancient Chinese writing. The dress mimics these scrolls and panels with inky black characters screen-printed onto silk fabric. Of all the non-Chinese designers, I thought that Chanel paid the best homage to the source. The small pleats echo the lines of Chinese dresses (we are shown these through videos playing throughout the exhibit). The characters are not arranged in lines, but the structure of the dress recalls the linearity of the source material. Aside from all that, it is a beautiful dress, and I want it.

***

This is only a small preview of a MASSIVE exhibit. I couldn’t photograph everything, partially because I was really enjoying seeing everything and kept forgetting to take pictures, and also because we were packed in there like sardines. In fact, five minutes before closing, I was buying a postcard when the cashier asked me how I liked the Anna Wintour section of the exhibit. I had no idea what she was talking about. Apparently, the show isn’t JUST on the second floor. There’s a whole other part in the Anna Wintour Costume wing downstairs. Oh well, guess I’ll just have to go back! And hopefully on a Wednesday at 10 AM this time… I like being alone when I look at art!

Just a leetle claustrophobic,

xoxo, Chloe ❤