Above, the lovely Sarah Holm of Black Spoke Leather Co. sports one of my brooches at the Golden Pearl Vintage, bringing it to life. Historically, my chief complaints about two-dimensional artwork is that it just sits there, it doesn’t do anything. In college, I recall being laughed at in critique for making that statement, but I guess I was just in the wrong program for my interests. Later, studying sculpture in grad-school, I found solutions to those problems by introducing living cultures into my work, but I’m finding out that wearing artwork is bringing the argument full-circle.

If you frequent Minneapolis art events, you’ve seen Scott Seekins around for years, he’s a staple in the community. Dressed in white or black woolen suits, according to season, and with an unruly mop of black curls paired with a pencil mustache, he is his own gallery at all times. He carries his work with him everywhere, because he’s outgrown the white cube that has come to compartmentalize art everywhere. Scott is for the ‘living gallery’, and I couldn’t agree with him more!

neen MFA '09 (104)A triops grown and used as part of an installation piece for my MFA thesis project.

One of the things I love most about sculpting for the body is that the wearer gets to become the gallery of this work – it has to be dynamic, a physical presence, and provoke conversation about personal story. Jewelry is sculpture and can be theatrical or political, always attracting attention. Not for the faint of heart, the wearer of a large sculptural piece of ornamentation must be comfortable with inquiring eyes and questions, embrace spectacle and have a persona to match the audacity of the work.

What happened to all of the zealous overstatements of the sixties and seventies? Even the eighties championed attention-seeking costumes, pushing limits, making statements. The rise of a norm-core aesthetic, or “finding liberation in being nothing special”, has hollowed-out self-expression through costume. This, in turn has had the effect of making people feel uneasy if they aren’t following the code. I hypothesize that in the future, experimental un-fashion that frames humans as the artwork will make its way back to the fore, as a reaction against this depressing trend.

neen MFA '09 (256)Warning, bio-hazard; molding bread slices, installed and  as a way to talk about housing.

I’m against the division between high and low art, design for function alone and investment in function-less artifice. Traditional cultures had no distinction between objects for everyday use and those that expressing their holiest cosmologies. Anthropologists imposed categories that created division where there was none previously, and the market drives those constructs now. We can bring wild, outlandish beauty back into the fold of everyday life, we can erase the division between dead and living art – we can all live with art, we can be the living gallery every day!


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