Image above: Minakshi DE – Mudras (detail)
In their own words…
Olga Saretsky (Kikimora Studio + Valentina) is using different shades of pink lycra fabric, foam, yarn and feathers for her design. To begin, she imagined the feminine beginning of our existence. On the process of creating her REBIRTHday look she says, “I feel rebellion. I feel fulfilled and connected to my creative source.”
Adrianne Butler’s starting point was derived from her past feelings of being trapped… “I started my outfit from the ground up. At first, we were instructed to stay inside and don’t go out. I felt trapped so under my black skirt, which represents the ground, I placed a silhouette of a face and hands of someone screaming to get out. Then as time passed we started to slowly get better. So I turned my bustier into the green stem of a beautiful sunflower, which is placed around the neck. Finally, the bad days of Covid are behind us and it’s time for a new beginning so the hat is a rising sun which signifies a “new day.” Well that was before the new numbers came out concerning Florida. Not sure how this tale will end.”
It’s worth noting Adrianne incorporated Tyvek, the paper that went to the moon, with her design. “It doesn’t rip or tear,” she says, “so it makes a beautiful product to distress and paint.”
Mark Byrne began by imagining a topical representation of birth and destruction leading him to create a Te Fiti / Te Kā mash-up with a balloon outfit and body paint. “She is the Hawaiian Goddess in Moana,” he says and intends a “childlike whimsy” for his REBIRTHday suit.
Michael Montini is looking for wealth in all the right places… “I had a sort of rebirth during the pandemic, where I recognized and focused on what is important to me. I am richer in relationships, richer in mind, body and soul, richer in knowledge, and richer in work life balance,” he says. “The pandemic and post pandemic has brought me “Wealth.”
Michael’s REBIRTHday suit features recycled acrylic pieces, an upcycled dress and top from Shepard Center, acrylic paint and monofilament.
As for his experience working on the REBIRTHday suit, Michael says, “I love being able to express myself and thoughts through my art. Wearable Art is really a four-dimensional experience. From concept and fabrication to the experience, appreciation.”
Cynthia Linville’s design blooms with possibility… “When I thought of the phrase rebirth, it made me think of spring and the first blades of grass and flowers emerging from the winter snow. Just like winter, we have been in a sort of holding pattern or hibernation phase, and with the vaccine we were starting to see little signs of returning to normal life popping up around us. I took that idea of “normal life” popping up in sporadic ways and places with the hope of it eventually taking over again.”
Her social message pertains to vaccination. “The left side of the piece around the shoulder area is covered with flowers and vines, which is where I received my vaccine,” she says. “I want it to appear that the flowers are emanating from that spot and that is the source of the spring awakening on the dress.”
Lina Teixeira is fashioning her REBIRTHday suit from makeup sponges, Christmas pom poms, faux leather, feathers, felt, elastic, velvet, wire and artificial foliage. “My suit represents hope and resilience throughout this pandemic. The suit itself represents the Covid 19 virus. The collar and headpiece is yellow and features sunflowers which represent hope emerging from adversity.”
Reflecting reoccurring objects from her dreams, DemiGod Demeree Barth’s REBIRTHday idea gave way to her learning how to use her new serger sewing machine and, “create clothing that I could wear outside of this wearable art show,” she says. Her design is an ode to Mother Nature, “I was happy the world shut down and the Earth got a break from transportation pollutants. I spent time with Mother Nature and I spent more time amongst the plants in my yard, and thanked my lucky stars I had a backyard to retreat to! I also spent time in parks where I could safely hang out with a my ‘bubble’ of close friends.”
Ashley Rivers says her style has changed over the past year and a half. Her REBIRTHday art focuses on the issues of femininity, identity and the body. “These works are part of a project that I’m working on regarding the constructs that society puts upon women,” she explains. “’Beauty’ has been a major issue within our society and especially within art. Art throughout history has largely been influenced by the male gaze, objectifying the female body. Women were viewed only as objects of sexual desire. So a majority of my recent works have been to try to redirect these views and allow women to reclaim their bodies. I hope to empower strength, hope, and the acceptance of individual identities.”
Mark Castle is bugging (in the best possible sense). For the INSECTOID collection he chose insects because they are his favorite animal. “Beetles in particular,” he says. “My goal with makeup is to always transform myself into a being from a world I’d love to visit.”
“Humans live if hope is present,” according to Francesco Gillia. “The hope that we could put this pandemic behind us let many of us behave selfishly and irrationally to the point of negating the existence of any danger. Now that we know a second wave is coming, the hope is that we have learned from the past mistakes.”
Francesco seeks to grant the viewer the perspective of a child unafflicted by the social ethos in his framing of the paintings, like a toddler who looks upon their parents and sees giants; the paintings were designed to be 6-8 feet in height in order to make the viewer feel as if they are a small child. By focusing on the torso and abdomen, the paintings became more akin to structures, their legs supporting the absent face and allowing the audience to imprint their own parental image on it; their own perception of parenthood adding a layer of connection between the two. In keeping the realism of the skin, folds and imperfections, the paintings can also be seen as mirrors of their subjects and testaments to the acceptance of our bodily differences.
Minakshi De is mesmerizing with “Mudra”—a piece comprising 90 mudras (sign language/hand gestures) that mesmerize her and a “Pink Icon” which she says is her attempt at appreciating the beauty of women’s lingerie, “Since I believe firmly that something which helps in accentuating the grace and beauty of a woman, is a piece of art in itself.”
Yhali Ilan aims to express our individuality and celebrate our diversity with his design. “Having my work in this exhibition feels very good. This is the first time I have been invited to participate in an event with the Dunedin Fine Art Center. Being included and recognized is nice.”