Santa Barbara – GraySpace Gallery presents Blurred Boundaries: Fashion as an Art, curated by Rhonda P. Hill, founder of EDGE. The exhibition spotlights the selected work of fashion designers Tingyue Jiang, Alena Kalana, Susan Tancer and Hera Zhou who blur the distinction between art and fashion.
Like art, fashion embodies the time we live in, and society bears witness to the interpretation of its historical and cultural significance. The power of fashion lies in its ability to transform identity and culture.
– Rhonda P. Hill
Global fashion is a multi-trillion dollar industry, where conflicting ideas of aesthetics, ethics, appropriateness, and desirability are debated within each society. This dynamic is played out through fashion events; high profile, celebrity, political and religious influences; utilitarian needs; and propelled by the global spread of capitalism.
The worlds of art and fashion design are overlapping, signifying blurred boundaries. There’s a paradigm shift in the way we understand the cultural contribution of fashion. Fashion exhibitions at art museums and galleries are a global phenomenon, with record breaking attendance. The exhibitions of Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty; Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology; and China: Through the Looking Glass are in the top 10 of all exhibitions visited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art [Met], New York, with over 2.2 million visitors. The Met is just one example, across the globe, where sophisticated audiences seek this captivating experience.
Blurred Boundaries: Fashion as an Art showcases fashion as an art. Thus this show makes a strong claim that fashion is an artistic expression and is as valid as sculpture and painting. Fashion is an artifact of our culture and can be seen through the lens of social anthropology. It can identify a cultural trend and articulate it in a certain way, or it can be cross-culturally inspired, while addressing societal rhythms. It can define the spirit or mood of an era.
Designers, Jiang, Kalana, Tancer, and Zhou manifest artistry, imagination, and an out-of-the-box mindset in their body of work. They give us bold designs that are relevant, innovative, with the rigor of nonconformity. These designers call themselves artists and do not see their designs as part of the mass produced off-the-rack garment industry. Jiang, Kalana, Tancer, and Zhou are disruptors working against the industry trend of ‘more is more’. They give fashion a cultural face, purpose, and environmental consciousness. With their dedication to an artistic practice – as sculptor in cloth – they are not restricted with commercial limitations. The art of the hand is distinctly human and cannot be replaced or matched by a machine. As we view their collections, we can experience “the hand” through the depth, complexity, and emotion in the construction, materials, shape, and ornamentation.
Traditionally there’s been a separation of fine and applied art. Art fundamentally creates culture. In an age of identity politics and multiculturalism, fashion’s power lies in its identity to transform identity and culture. Fashion, like any other art, serves as a platform to express, evoke emotion, and make a statement. Artists are motivated to create an object or image that is timeless – work that transcends time. Fashion designers have this same desire, but are up against creating seasonal work, to fuel the speed and disposability of today’s fashion environment. Fashion has never been more accessible to the masses than today, which, arguably, can hinder the artistic value of fashion. To counter this, a new generation of fashion designers emphasize new principles of design, such as line, shape, form, space, texture, and color to transcend fashion as an art.
EDGE, the acronym for Emerging Designers Get Exposed, is an international platform advancing the field of fashion in artistic values, cultural significance, and sustainability through the exposure of emerging designers. Its website, EDGExpo.com, is a periodic digest capturing an intelligent perspective on fashion. It provides a magazine-style look at the paradigm shift from irresponsible, excessive production and consumption to one of environmental and ethical consciousness, cultural sensitivity, and purpose.
EDGE champions making the art of fashion more accessible by exposing designers through the public venue of an art gallery or museum. It broadens the horizons of the viewer, forces them to look at fashion from a different point of view. To experience contemporary fashion, like contemporary art, is to engage and interact. It is a catalyst for dialogue and exchange of ideas and values.
“My hope is that the viewer will enjoy looking at fashion through a cultural lens, embrace the unexpected and that the exhibit inspires new inquiry of ‘fashion as an art’”, adds Hill.
ABOUT RHONDA P. HILL
Rhonda P. Hill is founder of EDGE and creator of Blurred Boundaries: Fashion as an Art. Hill is an accomplished business leader in the Fashion and Entertainment industries and currently contributes to the fashion industry as fashion curator, business adviser, conscious fashion advocate, writer, editor, and e-magazine publisher. Starting as a contemporary fashion buyer at Macy’s, Hill built a reputation for understanding a sophisticated and fashion savvy consumer. She has been recognized and awarded for her leadership in fashion merchandising, holding executive positions at Warner Bros. Studio Stores, adidas, Levi Strauss & Co. and as Vice President for Direct Marketing, Consumer Products Division of The Walt Disney Company.
As Editor-in-Chief of EDGExpo.com, Hill publishes a collection of interviews, narratives, and cultural perspectives on the transformation in the fashion industry, with the “EDGE Talks” as the centerpiece. She is quite vocal on the environmental damage caused by the fashion industry and a staunch advocate for slow fashion.
Hill is a member of the San Francisco-based and internationally acclaimed Arts of Fashion Foundation. She was interviewed on her global perspective of the fashion show in the book The Fashion Show: History, theory and practice by Gill Stark, Assistant Dean | Head of School of School of Creative and Liberal Arts, Regent’s University London [release date July 2018]. An interview with the founder of EDGE is featured in LES ASSORTIES’, Athens, Greece-based fashion news/media magazine.
Hill is a guest speaker at the Art Institute of California [AI] Fashion NOW Symposium and is an industry participant to the AI graduates Portfolio Review. She is a fashion show advisor; consulted for Blackboard Gallery’s Invierno Fashion Show; and a fashion show judge for The Art Institute of California Spotlight Fashion Show. Hill is a VIP industry guest of numerous Fashion Week events across the globe; guest invitee of the annual La Jolla International Fashion Film Festival & Awards; and contributing fashion editor for society805.com.
Blurred Boundaries: Fashion as an Art
ON VIEW 21 September – 11 November, 2018
In the Funk Zone
219 Gray Avenue
Santa Barbara, California.
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