Living Knitwork @ Ben Shahn Center for the Visual Arts


Irmandy Wicaksono

Irmandy Wicaksono

Touch Me: Feeling Fashion, by curators Laura Di Summa and Casey Mathern, is ultimately a reflection on the plurality of touch. Touch is transactional and performative. It requires direct involvement. Our clothes can make us feel empowered or trapped based on how accurately they convey how we wish to appear to the world. As much as our clothes shape us, we shape our clothes by leaving behind palimpsests, little reminders that we were here and we lived. To walk a mile in another’s shoes is to experience the world as they do. Fashion begins with touch. Behind every garment, there is a pair of hands; there are sartorial techniques and embroideries; there is, first and foremost, the fact that clothes touch our bodies every day, morning to night, through intervals of time that see us growing, aging, and morphing.

The selected artists here explore touch through remnants, self-portraiture, skins, new materials, reuse, and protection.  Irmandy Wicaksono’s Living Knitwork Pavilion panels convey the primary role played by textiles as shelter for our bodies—second skins bearing our personal and cultural iconography—and pay tribute to the dialogue between the fields of fashion and architecture. Ani Liu’s Pregnancy Menswear is a celebration of the beauty of tailoring when unbidden by the constraints of traditional gender roles and of the body laid bare in all that it is capable of. London-based designer Petit Pli has harnessed the genius of the permanent pleat, perfected by couturier Mario Fortuny and championed by Issey Miyake, as a practical solution to the age-old problem of children outgrowing their clothes too quickly, creating a range of designs that grow with, and not against, young bodies.

When garments and accessories touch us, they evoke emotions. When fashion touches us, we are, somewhat poetically, “touched by it.” Research has shown that touch can communicate distinct emotions with an accuracy that often surpasses our ability to communicate via facial and vocal expressions. This eclectic exhibition is here to explore as much as it is here to show. It is here to suggest a path of mindfulness toward what we wear: the garments and the accessories we buy, look at, and are in touch with forever.

Opening reception: Wednesday, February 28, 5pm – 6:30pm.

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