From the Curator: An Unreasonable Exhibition
Lisa M. Berman
I almost gave up on this exhibition before I started, but then my signature character of being “unreasonable” set in. Being unreasonable has a myriad of connotations for people based on their perspective (half empty/ half-full), the time in which they grew up (be seen, not heard) and the origin of dictionary on their desk (yes, a bonafied book with pages). Mine stems from an innate inability to give up based upon outside influence of what is acceptable, the norm, or an easy route (in or out). My DNA of medical inventors, technology wireless wizards, glass ceiling-breakers, indelible style-makers and photographers changing the world, has no room for mediocrity.
Feel the Frill – the Ginsburg Gauntlet is a very personal exhibition for a number of reasons. By nature, I am a tactile person, but not how you might think. Curating and hosting an exhibition via a flat computer screen goes against everything I know and have strove to cultivate in the past two decades. My passion for this work is rooted in the continuous journey and camaraderie of communicating with the artists, collectors, educators, media and the public. My definition of wearable art is not about jewelry as in common vernacular, but is synonymous with texture, scale, quality of craftsmanship (okay, crafts person-ship), creativity, unexpected use of materials, and conveying a non-verbal message. It does not have to be beautiful, elegant, pretty or even acceptable, but it must be thought-provoking, a conversation starter, and, above all, must be meaningful to the wearer. Often, the owner is willing to make a bold statement (or even a quiet one) and consequently, may receive a misguided commentary about of their aesthetic choice.
Navigating uncharted territory in the year 2020, we learn to be unreasonable and innovative, finding new ways of doing things, discovering what is truly valuable to us, celebrating our own personal “silver lining,” when we can find one. We learn to interact on a personal level and even maintain our businesses on new technology, and often the fumbling in the “newness” helps us to see one another in a new humanistic light. Yet, through the meaningful conversations of struggles, priorities, responsibilities, goals, change, aspirations, and dreams we maintain our dignified humanity through being human and employ civility to traverse civil discord. We use our voices in our unique ways as the incomparable Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg did throughout her life. Her accomplishments remain indelible long after her passing, and are even more important now, as they spark an undeniable determination to be heard, to fight, to communicate effectively as we strive to understand one another, open the door to acceptance, to be better humans and create a more compassionate world. After all, our survival is at stake.
I thank the artists for trusting and saying yes to my unreasonable request to make work for an on-line exhibition with only a few weeks’ notice. Thankfully, many of them were already inspired by the passing of our beloved Supreme Court Justice and had already been making artwork in her honor. I broke my own rules and opened the floor for this exhibition to include fine artists in their known mediums of painting, sculpture, photography, and others. Part of being a fully-engaged artist is to relish in a creative challenge, and most stepped out of their comfort zones to create wearable artwork. They explored new techniques, infused materials foreign to them into their practices and pieces, mostly with favorable results. The common thread was the willingness to use new tools to communicate a message of change.
I also thank the panel of esteemed judges who also lent their voice and platforms to this poignant and timely show honoring RBG. And yes, you can “teach an old dog new tricks”; in 22 years I have never included colleagues other than employees to participate in the curating, judging or promotion for Sculpture To Wear exhibitions, yet knew it was important to follow my instincts to collaborate with others to solidify a unified vision of eclectic diversity. I have never met some of the judges personally and some after learning of the show’s theme asked to be part of this exhibition, as was the case with the Racine Art Museum and I am truly grateful. The first person I entrusted to include had not judged a show of this nature and had not experienced the global impact of wearable art. Jayne Herring, a mother, survivor and human rights activist was instrumental in co-creating this impressive panel of judges. I am happy to be in her quarantine “cohort”. Learn more about judges, partners for this exhibition at: sculpturetowear.com/exhibitions.
It is through our love and great respect for the Honorable Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a woman most of us have never had the opportunity to meet, that we celebrate her vast accomplishments, unwavering commitment to doing what is right, and willingness to be “unreasonable” for the equality for all. We appreciate the sharing of her platform of both verbal and non-verbal dissents and through doing so, inherit a new language of wearable art. For this and innumerable other reasons, we too, Dissent from the status-quo of injustice by using our voices of change, to “Holler with our Collars” and FEEL the FRILL.
In closing, the employment of The Arts are timeless as necessary tools, especially instrumental now to weave an authentic tapestry to be seen by generations to come. I thank you for your continued patronage of The Arts, supporting whichever “voice” resonates with you. I am honored to be able to use my platform of choice, a visual voice of sculpture to wear to celebrate the Notorious RBG in a creative, dynamic and memorable way.
Lisa M. Berman
Sculpture To Wear Gallery