Note: yes, we're jumping right into another multi-part series of posts. I hope this will help show the work in a fuller context. Really, a lot of my art is done as a series (I keep exploring something until I've beaten it to death) and it's not possible to explain them individually.
In a posting on fossils, I mentioned my Closet Archaeology show. The Hermitage is a small local museum in Ho-Ho-Kus, NJ. They have a wonderful collection of vintage clothing, going back to almost the American Revolution. The director, Richard Sgritta, asked me to put together a show of their clothing with my art. I had almost a year to assemble this, and the show was up for 6 months. It was the perfect venue to show my work.
The original stone farmhouse was built in the mid-1700s. It was purchased in 1807 by Elijah Rosencrantz and his wife, Cornelia Suffern. Four generations of the family lived at the Hermitage. Mary Elizabeth Rosencrantzwas the last to live there. When she died in 1970, she bequeathed the house, contents and grounds to the State of New Jersey. In 1970, the Hermitage was designated a National Historic Landmark.
The farmhouse was full of antiques. But there was another, newer house on the premise, and this was the gallery for the show. Unlike the usual stark white walls of the typical gallery...
..this place called for a creative approach to display. The dresses and other artifacts in the collection had to be in cases...but I didn't think the few cases available would really work. Having museum-style cases in a house gallery didn't fit. Some of the display cases were permanently built in, but I asked them to remove the portable ones.
I took photos of the place, then photoshopped out anything on display, so I could visually plan with an empty space. Some of the empty case photos might look a bit wobbly.
I started collecting old suitcases, trunks and chests. Here's a few of the dozens I gathered, in my living room. I painted them to match the trim in the house.
In the climate-controlled storage area, I found lovely old christening gowns. I had to note exactly where each one was stored, so it could be returned after the show. Then I lined the suitcases with dark fabric, carefully arranged the dresses inside, and covered them with sheets of clear acrylic.
And it worked! The dresses were safe inside their cases, and my art was on the wall.
To reduce visual clutter, I covered the windows with sheer white fabric. These window covers have deconstructed baby clothes and baby bonnets stitched to the cloth. And the small case on top of the wicker basket? The lid has a photo from the collection - one of the Rosencrantz infants - and the case holds that actual bonnet.
Fossil Garment #7 ( 25"h x 39"w), with a deconstructed christening gown, is hanging on the wall.