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My project investigates the body through the abstract visual language of clothing. I am interested in how the individual chooses to cover and reveal the body and the self, and I attempt to peer into both the conscious and subconscious reasons that inform these decisions. Clothing is also examined for its ability to document memory and to act as an artifact of a particular individual. Though the body is implied, the work is not about representing the human figure, but rather its conspicuous absence. My work reflects the body’s measurements, its touch, its impressions, and its histories marked and preserved by worn clothing. In this sense by work blurs the line between representation and formal abstraction.
In my work I use predominantly found materials, many of which originated from within my family and the house I grew up in. Discarded clothing, abandoned sewing projects, mismatched or otherwise unwearable shoes, have been repurposed, re-imagined, and given new life. Because such materials are so rooted in the personal and everyday life, the figure is immediately called to mind. While some of the materials hold histories and associations that are personal to me, with others I can merely speculate and imagine the histories they hold. Similarly, the work is open for the viewer to insert his or her own narratives.
The process was driven by the medium, incorporating techniques commonly used in textile and garment fabrication, including sewing, cutting, wrapping, stretching, layering, zipping/unzipping, etc. Having worked as a costume seamstress, I wanted to apply these familiar actions to ultimately serve as a drawn line and create form. I am interested in the seemingly dichotomous relationship between what is considered “high” art and “low” craft. By utilizing these processes I explore the areas in which these two realms begin to overlap.
Regarding my palette, a more minimal approach was taken. The palette is, on the one hand, subdued so as to focus on inherent qualities and formal elements of the materials used; and on the other hand, is informed by the natural coloring/discoloring of the found materials. The pieces in which the color black is featured reflect the psychological potential of clothing to reveal deeper truths, with particular focus given to conventions of beauty and sexuality. Following this idea, the palette also reflects an investigation of my own angst and anxieties experienced over the course of the year.
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Maxwell, Blair Louisa, "Deconstructing the Sole" (2013). Senior Projects Spring 2013. 40.
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