What happens when you approach the body with an artist’s sensibility rather than that of a clothing designer or a fashionista? Does your vision change when your creation is to become a piece of artwork, and the body is intended as the infrastructure instead of something to be adorned?
Wearable Art, artwork crafted by hand to be worn or displayed on the body, are pieces typically constructed from handmade fabrics, or unusual non-fiber materials as expressive art. A relatively new visual medium, Art to Wear gained prominence in the early twentieth century alongside advancements in technology.
Artists using traditional craftsmanship found creative and expressive uses for state-of-the-art tools and new materials. Contemporary creators hail from a variety of backgrounds becoming. These crafters, artists, and designers form a motley crew whose work spans a broad range of media:
- Fashion – Iris van Herpen
- Textile and jewelry design – Marjorie Schick
- Artists books and performance art – Béatrice Coron
- Environmentalists cum artists – Tatiana Pagés
In its most basic form, clothing is protection, but the garments and accessories we choose to wear on a daily basis do so much more. We wear uniforms, costumes, and disguises to communicate:
- Who we associate with
- Who we are pretending to be
- Who we want others to see
In the form of fashion, we use clothing and accessories to express who we are or who we would like to be. As culture has evolved, the way we dress has evolved into a form of non-verbal story telling. Artists who specialize in Wearable Art can take advantage of this singular mode of communication as a way to open a conversation between the artist and the observer.
You may hear fashion, tattoos, or jewelry described as art, but imagine, instead, what it might be like to wear a piece that is essentially sculpture for the body or performance art, where you are neither the subject nor the object, but simultaneously the the space, the artwork, and the artist. Take a closer look at some of the work highlighted in this article and ask yourself why someone would design these pieces, who would wear them, and in what context?
And make sure to visit our Art2Wear exhibit in the Sabatini Art Gallery! The exhibit runs April 8 – May 15.