Photos by Andrew Dobrowolskyj
by Sara Collin
The idea behind The Dress Show, a clothing-based art exhibit
currently on display at the Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery, was
first sown more than five years ago. Interim director Lynn Beavis became
interested in the theme of dress and identity when she met artist and
Concordia graduate Barbara Hunt.
After I saw her work, I knew I wanted to create an exhibit around
her dresses. Then I started noticing other people doing work with clothing
and dress. Five years later, The Dress Show has made its way to
Concordias art gallery, in a show running from April 22 to May 31.
In the exhibit, Hunts three dresses are made of plasma-arc cut
steel, and each measures over six feet in height. She explores so-called
masculine and feminine traits through her art.
At one of The Dress Show events, each artist explained how his
or her work related to identity and dress and, often, to questions of
gender. Kevin Whitfield told a small audience how his three knitted dresses
raise questions of gender and its possible transmutation. He defied the
stereotype of knitting as a female tradition, and described his dresses
as a possible second skin.
One of Whitfields pieces, which has two breasts protuding from
the wool dress, is called You should have been a woman. His
other pieces have male and female genitalia knitted into them, offering
a vision that suggests the superficiality of gender roles.