Soul Meets Body: An Exhibition Statement From Curator Morgan Laurens

Soul Meets Body: An Exhibition Statement From Curator Morgan Laurens cover

When wearable art emerged from the anti-establishment counterculture of the late 1960s, it signaled a sea change in the social and political fabric of the United States. Young artists, fed up with Eisenhower-era conservatism and art-world elitism, rebelled against the separation of fine art and craft.

Often dismissed by art historians, American craft and wearable art is largely represented by women and rooted in non-Western aesthetics. Practitioners use unconventional materials, such as textiles, metal, and leather to adorn the body and bring art into the everyday. The movement is inextricably linked to the ’60s and ’70s, fueled by the hippie, mod, and feminist subcultures that embraced its potential for rebellion against the white male establishment.

While the movement dwindled with the rise of corporate America, wearable art is experiencing something of a renaissance today. In the face of rising tides, mounting debt, and endless war, Millennials and Gen Z are abandoning upward mobility in favor of sustainability and DIY, which, as a movement, also has roots in 1960s counterculture. The artists in our June exhibition join the generations of crafters who rebelled against consumerism, war, art-world elitism, patriarchy, white supremacy, and environmental destruction. Using the body as armature, they reaffirm the invaluable importance of objects made with human labor and by human hands. Read more about the artists in Soul Meets Body, then visit the exhibition via the link below.

Masks

Our sixth exhibition of 2024, Soul Meets Body, explores the world of wearable art, which celebrates craft and acknowledges its close relationship with the body.
‘Underlands’ by Rachel Pozivenec

“I often wonder what happens behind a mask,” says Rachel Pozivenec, whose haunting ceramic masks take center stage in the dreamlike scenes she creates then photographs. “Do we access something beyond ourselves or become more ourselves the moment we merge with a mask? I believe the answer is both.”

Symbolically, masks have long played a central role in human expression and our quest for meaning. Nicaragüense American artist Tanya Flores Hodgson uses cultural artifacts from her homeland to make space for multiple facets of her identity. In her self-portrait “Masks,” the California-based artist places herself at the center of a dynamic cultural narrative, one that helps her process the enduring horrors of colonialism in Latin America. Sculptor Alison Berkery injects meaning back into postmodern American with brightly colored papier-mâché masks that acknowledge our primal need for ritual and ceremony. At some level, do we instinctively yearn for the traditional customs that brought our respective ancestors together?” asks Alison. “Are we filling this hole with material objects and noise that doesn’t heal the wound?”

Jewelry

Our sixth exhibition of 2024, Soul Meets Body, explores the world of wearable art, which celebrates craft and acknowledges its close relationship with the body.
‘Brooch IV’ by Jean Huang

As an art form, jewelry is defined by its connection to and interaction with the body. From headdresses and ear ornaments to brooches and belts, jewelry amplifies, accentuates, conceals, animates, and transforms the body. “Every ancient brooch is spiritual and full of stories,” says Jean Huang, who replicates historical brooches using contemporary materials, such as molding paste and acrylic paint. Included in the show, Jean’s “Brooch IV” demonstrates the skills of Frankish metalsmiths.

Created with polished gold over grass, Nicholas Moore’s “Rhino Bracelet” honors the extinct northern white and western black rhinos in wild Africa. “Rhinoceros are gentle and peaceful yet powerful and agile,” says Nicholas. The bracelet carries natural curves like the grounds of the Earth, along with grass-like accents on the sides meant to invoke strength and grounded nature to whoever wears it.” Ewunike Hanson’s “Deep Galaxy” earrings similarly explore the body’s relationship with the natural world around it.

Clothing

Our sixth exhibition of 2024, Soul Meets Body, explores the world of wearable art, which celebrates craft and acknowledges its close relationship with the body.
‘A Sock is a Sock is a Sock’ by Andrea Arts

While clothing plays a more functional role than jewelry in human history, its ability to embellish, enhance, or distinguish the wearer speaks volumes about our individual and collective identities. Textile artist Andrea Arts uses clothing to explore the contemporary connection between commodification, function, and beauty. Her installation “A Sock is a Sock is a Sock” explores the history of material and labor as “a language in their own right.”

Cassie Arnold’s “Stereotype Sweater (Women’s Edition)” acknowledges the physical weight and psychological toll of damaging words, while Tamsen Williams’ spikey “Anger Coat” helped her process the dissolution of her marriage during the pandemic. “With a background in clothing design and a lack of supplies, I purged my closet—tearing things apart—searching for what felt like home in a claustrophobic world,” explains Tamsen. “Old clothes, chairs, sheets, fabrics I’d brought back from studying fabric design in India. I took them all down to their basic components, searching for the answer to the simple question: What works?”

Beyond the Body

Our sixth exhibition of 2024, Soul Meets Body, explores the world of wearable art, which celebrates craft and acknowledges its close relationship with the body.
‘Cecilia Deflated’ by Saulman Schlegel

Clothing and accessories transform the body—and the mind—in unexpected ways. What does it mean when a piece of clothing leaves the body, gets lost, changes owners, or changes the wearer into something unrecognizable?

In “Cecilia Deflated” (above), Saulman Schlegel tells the story of St. Cecilia, who was beheaded after refusing to worship Roman gods. Under a blanket, her “body” (a row of inflated balloons) slowly deflates, collapsing into death. Sarah Guerin’s “LEAN” explores the history of women’s footwear and its restrictive, often physically destructive, consequences. New York artist Dylan Coppola probes the meaning of loss in “Ecdysis II,” a mixed-media piece created with discarded clothing and soil from around his home. “Through the absence of the implied human form, the viewer is placed in a position as a spectator to something that is difficult or painful to imagine,” says Dylan. “Under what material circumstances did these artifacts wind up here? With the very ground raised to eye-level, the viewer must confront that something is most definitely wrong, and that wrongness cannot be escaped by looking away.”

All photos published with permission of the artist(s); featured graphics for Soul Meets Body by David Schwartz.

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Tags

art exhibition, Clothing Design, contemporary art, contemporary craft, first friday exhibitions, group exhibition, jewelry, jewelry artist, textile art


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