|A view of the main gallery for Folk Couture: Fashion and Folk Art|
For Folk Couture, the Museum gathered together 100 works of art from its permanent collection and invited thirteen fashion designers to create a garment inspired by one or more of the items they saw. The designers were drawn to twenty-three objects -- ranging from quilts, sculpture and photography -- from which they developed their own creations.
The Museum organized the exhibition in four sections -- Pattern, Disembodiment, Narrative, and Playfulness -- in order to create some structure in which to reference the connections between the garments and the various artworks from the Museum collection. (I understand the underlying need to create some structure to the exhibition, but I didn't feel that this particular organization was necessary to my enjoyment of the art nor did it help me better understand the artistic dialogue between inspiration and artwork/garment.) However, I found the installation design -- which did not necessarily follow the aforementioned groupings -- to be very compelling. The folk art inspiration(s) are displayed alongside the contemporary garment, with a placard commentary from each of the designers about their inspiration and/or some element of their design processes.
|Michael Bastian, New York, Untitled|
Inspired by Anniversary Tin: Man's TopHat and Eyeglasses (1880-1900) Artist unidentified, Man in Top Hat with Cane c. 1890, Artist unidentified, and Archangel Gabriel Weathervane, c. 1840, Artist Unidentified (hanging on wall)
|Jean Yu, South Korea, The Animal Human Dress|
Inspired by Porcupine, David Alvarez (b. 1953)
|Inspired not by the quilt behind it, but by a remarkable cut paper artwork similar to scherenschnitte|
|Untitled stands before its inspiration, Ann Carll Coverlet: Blazing Star and Snowballs, |
Attributed to the Mott Mill, 1810
Other creations are not so wearable, such as John Bartlett's whimsical Elongated Shirt/Pant Two-dimensional Wall Hanging inspired by Man with Green Shirt and White Suspenders, Artist Unidentified, late 19th/early 20th century.
The exhibition also includes a design wall, with sketches and samples from various designers in preparation for this exhibition, as well as two videos in which the designers share their process. I bought the exhibition catalog as reference and a souvenir. I must say that the photography in the book allows for appreciation of some of the detail of the works but since there aren't any installation photos, the book lacks an element of the drama that's been created by the fabulous lighting in the exhibition. However, don't let that discourage you from buying the book. The essays are thoughtful and well-written and the insights into each designer and their work is fascinating.
I strongly recommend this intimate look at artistic inspiration. Folk Couture: Fashion and Folk Art will be on display at the American Folk Art Museum through April 23rd.