Thursday, May 18, 2023

Installation Femmetastiques - PART 3


Installation Femmetastiques - Part 3 

Violence Against Women

Violence Against Women

We Wrap Ourselves Around You: Angels For Ukraine

Dance With Dementia

By Tom Wachunas

"Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street. Fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.” —Coco Chanel

“I think what's important is to give space to the range of human experience.”  - Judy Chicago

“As an artist, I never wanted to be fettered by gender nor recognized or defined as a female poet, musician or singer. They don't do that with men - nobody says Picasso, the male artist. Curators call me up and say, "We want your work to be in a show about women artists," and I'm like, why? For Christ's sake, do we have to attach a gender onto everything?”  - Patti Smith

EXHIBIT: Salon des Femmes -  celebrating the work of 12 local female artists / Cyrus Custom Framing & Art Gallery, 2645 Cleveland Ave NW, Canton, OH / Through June 14, 2023 / Viewing hours Monday -Friday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday 11 a.m to 3 p.m. (closed on first Saturday of month)

EXHIBITING ARTISTS: Heather Bullach, Heidi Fawver, Kat Francis, Marti Jones Dixon, Erika Katherine, Judi Krew, Aimee Lambes, Sam Lilenfield, Sally Lytle, Erin Mulligan, Emily Orsich, Jo Westfall

   For much of art history, the techniques and materials of functional domestic crafts (weaving, sewing, quilting, embroidery and the like) associated with women, a.k.a. “women’s work,” was thought to be intellectually empty and unworthy to be called “high art.” Such work was typically dismissed as mere ornament or decoration. Fortunately, such institutionalized small-mindedness has been in steady decline for decades, thanks in large part to the potency of transformational ideas central to the feminist movements of the 1960s and 1970s.

   And ‘potent’ is certainly an appropriate descriptor for the three marvelous pieces here by Judi Krew. They’re from her ongoing Hoard Couture wearable art series. Here’s a relevant she said–he said about that series, excerpted from my blog comments about her 2021 solo show at Massillon Museum. First, she said, “…I embrace the mantra of reuse, repurpose, reconsider, and reimagine to guide the overall concept of each piece… The original intent of Hoard Couture, to reduce an accumulation of things, has evolved over time into a series that sometimes looks back at our past and perhaps also forward to our future…” Then, he (I) said, “… we can rightly regard Judi Krew’s works as not just fashion design, but also as remarkable mixed-media sculptures… In all of their astonishing intricacy of constructed details, these exquisitely crafted assemblages are more than merely decorative. They’re declarative…”

The spiritual power of We Wrap Ourselves Around You: Angels For Ukraine is indeed a purposeful declaration and, I dare say, a prayer. Wearing this brilliant and sparkling tribute to the people of Ukraine would be to don the wings of hope and healing.

   On a distinctly more somber note, there’s the interactive Violence Against Women – at once sobering and disturbing. More than simply “feminist” in concept and scope, it’s compellingly humanist. Read Krew’s statement: “Upon this piece are 22 individual pockets depicting 30 forms of violence against women both historical and contemporary. The text is hand stitched and incorporates a small visual reference. The body of the pockets are intended to be “beautiful” individual works of art using craft materials… Within each pocket are laminated stories from victims who suffered these acts of violence. Please reach in and read their stories so they can reach out to you… Do not allow women to remain hidden anymore.”

   In her statement that accompanies Dance With Dementia, Krew writes that she designed the work as a “modified dance costume comprised of: the artist’s 1984 wedding rehearsal dress; overskirt made from a bedsheet that was wrapped around her mother’s bridal gown (to preserve it) circa 1958; and the front panel of a real dance costume…”  

   The garment is covered with 45 miniature dresses that echo the Hoard Couture series as a whole. Krew tells us that the small pieces are “…made as memories and more able to be stored once the artist passes away and the full scale series is eventually disposed of. When fully assembled, this dancer’s dress serves as a retrospective of the artist’s years making Hoard Couture and a lifetime of playing with art materials.”

    So there is, belying the fulsome visual brightness of the piece, a pensive this-too-shall-pass sadness about it. Here, Krew shows herself to be a gifted poet, evidenced by the panel attached on the front of the garment, bearing the arresting Dance With Dementia poem she wrote:

A little girl grows up to make art / She wears it well, they say / Dancing under gallery lights /

Accolades / Decades / Pieces of herself left behind, until /

An unfinished canvas, an empty hook / a missed deadline / Unsigned /

Did anyone notice? / Were there signs? / Decline /

The stage grows dark / The theater lies empty / Studio spaces forgotten

A.R.T. entombed in bins / Abandoned / Unavailable /

A nice lady gives her some crayons

 Judi Krew, thank you. I keep noticing the sublimity of your work, the fabric of your heart. And I suspect that any dancing you might be doing with crayons in the future would be no less enthralling.

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