Cindy Sherman, Pinar Yolacan, and Thorsten Brinkmann: Dress Codes
I visited New York quite a bit while living in Pennsylvania. When I was in high school and heavily involved in music, we would frequently go on trips to see Broadway shows. When I was in college as a student studying fine art, we would frequently go on trips to visit art galleries and museums to find inspiration. I've recently found myself revisiting some of my favorite artists, looking back at the moments I fell a little in love with seemingly complete strangers. But artists are never really complete "strangers" to us, are they? The way they let you in to what is often a very private experience for them. The way they openly address pain and hardships. Ultimately, artists invite you to be a participant in their lives, and maybe that's part of what lured me into the art world.
I so vividly remember my first solo visit to a gallery. I had somehow ended up at the ICP (International Center of Photography) while everyone had other plans. I was 19 and in my early days of studying photography and fiber art. This was the first show I visited at this gallery and it was so important in my growth as an artist that I always made sure to stop back whenever I was in NYC. This particular exhibit was titled Dress Codes. It was there that I saw my first Cindy Sherman photograph in person. I truly almost cried. My work was so like hers mainly because I was my most convenient model and I would put myself in situations that I would not have placed others. I didn't know this until I discovered her work during my freshman year of college (incredibly late, I know) and suddenly it all made so much more sense. She validated me in a way. It made me stop questioning what I was doing and continue onward, full force. It also made me realize my love of costuming was being put to use.
I saw pieces that inspired me, surprised me and also things that were not unlike pieces I had made or was working on. I think that was the moment I knew I wasn't wasting my time. From Pinar Yolacan and her raw meat apparel to Martha Rosler's Invasion, I found my relationship with mixed media revealing itself to me in the clearest form possible.
The above image of my "Atomic" was one of the first projects I created for fiber art during my freshman year of college at the ripe 'ole age of 18. The mixed media piece is made using cotton, polyester, satin, cotton thread and magazine clippings. The piece involved hand dying, reverse applique, and several hand stitching techniques. This was the beginning of my obsession with creating buildings with "roots" and the first use of my well known art mantra "a delicate strength."
It was in the lower part of the building at ICP's Dress Codes where I discovered Thorsten Brinkmann. I had never seen his work, not even in text. He blew my mind. Brinkmann's work was a combination of installations and photographs using found objects. He joined the absurd with the traditional- using fabric scraps and thrift store finds to fashion head coverings and garments to costume his subjects in while they posed in regal positions. The installation portion of this part of the exhibit was similar. This was the very moment I had a vision of showing handmade, wearable objects side by side with portraits of the pieces being worn. It wasn't until some time later when I actually explored this.
I thoroughly enjoy revisiting past work and seeing how my art has evolved. While I often find myself wanting to get back to creating more "fine art" pieces, I am so deep in this obsession with hand cut leather (i.e. the cutout collection) that I realize I am where I'm supposed to be at the moment. I currently have a wall hanging using this technique in the works and I believe this is a direction I'll be heading in shortly. It's really a culmination of everything I've seen and contributed to the world of art.