In Clothing - Cuff and TieAdmittedly, I’ve thinned the herd of clothing that used to be in my closet. But still, there are those cherished garments that I may have worn once yet will never wear again that reside sleeve and collar next to my current go-to wardrobe. Enclosed in plastic garment bags are my maternal grandmother’s 1907 wedding pantaloons, slip and nightgown along with my 1995 raspberry brocade and chiffon mother-of-the bride dress. In another far corner is a collection of wearable art vests and jackets, some of which I wear occasionally, and some that will enjoy a place of honor for the foreseeable future simply because I loved the creative pleasure of making them.

All that to say that I’m currently participating in a collaborative art project at the Cary Senior Center entitled In Clothing We Remember. Participants were invited to donate an item of clothing that was memorable for them.  Donors were interviewed and video taped by a delightful group of high school girls. Cut up and transformed, the donated garments became fabric collages stabilized on fusible interfacing by the lead artist, Jan-Ru Wan and her assistants. During the monthly workshops participants will add screen printing to the fabric collages (created from family photos associated with the donated garments), additional lines and colors with fabric markers and paint, and embroidery.

Often the garment fabrics are very disparate – a cuffed sleeve from a striped dress shirt combined with a jewel-studded rayon blouse. Through the added embellishments the participants are invited through color and line to encourage the clothing fragments to “talk to one another.” At this stage of the art project, we’ve begun to add simple embroidery stitches to the rectangles with an eye to integrating the distinctly different fabrics into a more harmonious whole. It’s a bit like doodling with needle and thread…a project right up my alley while I listen to TV in the evening.

In Clothing We Remember will be installed in the Cary Art Center in April. Between now and then I’m having a lovely time reaching back about forty years into my supply of embroidery floss remembering a host of simple stitches….running, chain, French knot, on-long, spider web, buttonhole and its many leafy variations. I’m loving the conversations between color and line…and the imagined stories each garment represents.

What favorite garments languish in the corners of your closet that have fond memories for you? What memories surface for you in these items of clothing? If your were to create a fabric collage with two of them, what interesting conversations would the two garments share? What family photos might you add to the clothing’s story?

2 comments to Clothing

  • What a wonderful idea, and so meaningful, for a show. So glad you’re participating in it. Warms my heart. xo c

  • cynthia Hashbarger

    Lucky . LUcky Lucky NOrth Carolina to have you and your wonderful imagination and love of life…. Come filter thru my closet and
    and help me bring the “old favorite” times back to life. Happy day.. Love, Cynthia

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