One Hundred Year Encounter: (Re)Threading Object-based Research within the Isabella Stewart Gardner and Lucy Truman Aldrich Collections (2020)
Global collections amassed in the late-19th and early-20th centuries reflect cultures purchased and transplanted for individual possession and public education. Today artists and researchers are reactivating these collections and exploring multiple cross-cultural methodologies for object-based research to provide platforms for responsible historical interpretation. Two case studies examine the Asian textile collection of Lucy Truman Aldrich at the RISD Museum of Art and the collection of Isabella Stewart Gardner inside the museum she built for its display. These investigations by contemporary textile and apparel designers provide glimpses into the boundaries of object agency, voice, translation, and appropriation.
Contribution and Collaboration:
An Intervention by Katerina Burin (2021)
Artist Katarina Burin introduced an 80-year-old archive revealing thriving multidisciplinary architect and designer Petra Andrejovna-Molnár to the world in 2013. This 'discovery' operated as an interventional vehicle against the systematic removal of women in the art and design canon. The ongoing production of this fictitious architect’s persona contained a full visual dossier of photographs, drawings, constructed furniture, ceramics and graphic models for exhibition. Injecting the work of Andrejovna-Molnár alongside her male contemporaries boldly defies a silence to a history systematically erased by the design world, while making room for the hundreds of female designers whose legacies and stories have yet to be re-told.
Performant Materiality: Translation, Appropriation, and Influence within the Photography of Phyllis Galembo (2019)
Identity continues to be constructed and categorized using transcultural translations through photography, fashion, and textiles. Through relationships based upon trust and mutual engagement, Phyllis Galembo has photographed and documented masquerades, ceremonial dress, and rituals throughout West Africa, Mexico, and Haiti for over 35 years. However, imagery of Galembo’s photographs have routinely been removed from their context by fashion designers utilizing her portfolio as inspiration for global runway and couture collections. The discourse of such cross-cultural "inspiration” by designers misplaces origins and continues the systematic perpetuation of cultural borrowing to exoticize, fetishize, and commodify.
Hard Hats and Embroidery: The Women of the Tirocchi House Yesterday and Today (2019)
Ruffles, Repair & Ritual: The Fine Art of Fixing \ An Anthology of Writing in Regards to the Renovation of the Wedding Cake House \ Eds. Mary-Kim Arnold and Taylor M. Polites, Providence: Dirt Palace Collective. 36-43.
In 1917, two Italian sisters opened the fashion house A. & L. Tirocchi Gowns in Providence, RI in a ‘gingerbread-style mansion’ constructed in 1867, now known as the Wedding Cake House and the Tirocchi House. Crafting couture for the elite clientele of Providence, Newport, and New York City, the seamstresses brought bold textiles and silhouettes from Paris until 1947. In 1989, as if frozen in time, curators rediscovered a fashion time capsule. Yet the house remained in disrepair for decades, until it was acquired in 2017 by the Dirt Palace Public Projects, a Providence feminist art collaborative, for restoration into a bed and breakfast and artist residency programming. The Wedding Cake House continues a history of two women 100 years apart, steeped in female entrepreneurship, craftsmanship, textile, and wallpaper design.
Origins of Body Electrification : Atsuko Tanaka + Diana Dew (2019)
Responding to the epic changes affecting mid-20th century life and culture, two women transformed engineering, technology, light, and the body. Inspired by the flashing neon signage of post-WW II Japan consumerism, Japanese artist Atsuko Tanaka made her Electric Dress in 1956; several years later American fashion designer Diana Dew rejected LSD counter-cultural dependence on mind-altering drugs to embrace the use of tech and engineering as a future symbol for 1960s fashion. As performative social sculptures responding to the socially-charged issues, Tanaka and Dew pioneered new realities in tech-fabrics, experimentation with sound and multimedia forms of robotic wearable technologies, to reimagine how the female body is expressed and impressed upon in its chosen/forced environments.
Translated Gazes: Exploring Applied Notions of the Other in Photography and Their Influence on Contemporary Fashion and Textile Design | 2019
Photography has often been an activity of the Traveler, the Visitor, the Tourist, the Surveyor, the Ethnographer, Colonialist, and the Invader. Used as an industrial form of documenting, surveying, and piecing together the world in a visual record, created new genres of study such as anthropology and ethnography, born of colonial purpose to strategize and categorize. Postcards were acquired in the 19th and early-20th centuries by Western tourists, imperialist travelers, and traders depicting Asia, the Arab Lands, Africa, the Americas, and Oceania as ‘historical’ photo souvenirs of the 'exotic’. Examining the works of several contemporary photographers, fantasies of Orientalism, performed ‘primitivism’, and forced subjugation are untangled highlighting their uses in promoting and legitimizing colonialism, while perpetuating European assumptions of the Western gaze.
Elephants, Exoticism, and the Diplomatic Performance of Japanese Prosperity (2020)
Marching Through the Floating World: Processions in Ukiyo-e Prints \ Co-researched with Wei Zhang for the RISD Ukiyo-e curatorial course project.
For centuries the Japanese festival, known as matsuri, has connected communities in the celebration and preservation of tradition. During the Edo period, the Sannō Festival was an annual government-endorsed summer spectacle consisting of sacred palanquins, portable shrines, and large ornate floats, or yatai, accompanied by singers and dancers. Accompanying several essays on ukiyo-e processional prints, this article examines Yōshū Chikanobu's 1895 series Viewing the Sannō Festival, depicting a procession performing historical memory and the foreign exoticism of elephants and the Korean embassies, shrouded in political performance and cultural significance. Chikanobu’s work evaporates into the approaching future of rapid modernization seen by the Meiji Period; bridging the old and new to examine traditions, class, disguise, and concepts of spectatorship.
Tutas + Madame V: Visions of gender and revolutions in fashion | 2021
Thayaht, the palindromic pseudonym of Ernesto Michahelles, was a Futurist Italian artist-designer who worked in collaboration with the Parisian couturière Madeleine Vionnet, as she built an empire by rejecting corsets in favor of freeing the female form. A pioneer of design, Thayaht is a fascinating figure and forward thinker in democratizing fashion for contemporary life almost 100 years ago. In 1919, he designed The TuTa, the modern day jumpsuit intended to revolutionize fashion and create a modern and particularly Italian style; a practical item of clothing for everyday use ironically adopted as a trend by the Florentine elite. Retracing the interdisciplinary collage principles which blurred the roles of artist within architecture, politics, and fashion explore European concepts of abstraction and modernism that created the Modern ‘international’ style.