Essay By Cynthia Amneus- Chief C
urator at the Cincinnati Art Museum
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Artist statement Artist Statement - Corona Virus Wearable Art Response Project
For many, Covid-19 led to isolation and loneliness. For me this work is about embracing rather than resisting sadness, loss, and discomfort using the creative process. Wearable art allows these emotions to be expressed in a non-verbal yet extremely powerful visual language.
Participants were asked to respond with clothing, costume or other wearable art to express how they felt about the coronavirus, quarantine and social distancing
The garments are mostly comprised of pieces sourced from the participant’s homes since most stores were closed. Many displayed personal empowerment, and in many cases a sense of contemporary Shamanism by gathering of strength thru power, objects, and adornments. For others, objects and garments of beauty helped them feel reconnected to the world. This time of Covid-19 challenges us all and the act of creating art as a response can be a healing act.
I employ numerous approaches to achieve a sense of authenticity, using natural body alignment and integrating that with emotional characteristics of the feelings that the sitters express about their costume. Meaning is created from both mundane and colorful fabrics that weave together both a sense of distress and the possibility of rebirth. At first, because of the quarantine, people were only using things that they found in their home. Later, we see some articles acquired outside the home.
Costume is one of the deepest and most ancient forms of communication. Art through costume allows us to be heard and expressed in unique ways that verbal language cannot duplicate. The practice of wearing a costume allows the wearer to acquire a new identity. In most cases, for this series, it became one of empowerment. Some include masks that were designed to protect the wearer either functionally or symbolically, yet become a vibrant artistic statement. As face coverings become transformational through creative expressions about the current situation, the viewer is left with a deeper insight into their own feelings. Many participants felt that the creation of their art was healing. My hope is that the viewers of the project will feel a connection to the people in the portraits.
This series could only be made in this time of Covid-19. It freezes the moment of this time in history. Art can not only create healing for ourselves, but can show empowerment and lead to change in the world.
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