An exhibition at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection, May 5 - September 3, 2012
“Fashionality” is a newly coined term that refers to the visual culture and semiotics of dress and adornment. Combining the words “fashion,” “personality,” and “nationality,” it suggests the interplay between clothing, identity and culture. Reflecting wide geographic and cultural diversity, this exhibition focuses upon the ways in which the concerns, identities and aesthetics of those living in Canada are expressed, deconstructed and reconfigured through the idiom of dress.
This blog records exhibition-related information, as well as work and events related to artists appearing in the show.
Fashionality closes at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection today. It's been an amazing show, and response has been fantastic! How wonderful to have so many incredible artists together in one place -- and a place that lends itself so well to the many themes of the exhibition.
Many, many thanks to all the awesomely talented artists, the supremely generous lenders, to the incredibly hard-working and gracious McMichael staff, and to the numerous, and highly enthusiastic visitors to the show. It's been a immensely creative, social, and educational experience, not to mention a delight to the heart and to the eye. 'Till next time!
Meryl McMaster, Caduceus, 2010. From the ongoing In-Between Worlds series. Digital
Copyright and collection of the artist. Courtesy of
Katzman Kamen Gallery.
Canadian Art magazine's most recent e-update revisited the Fashionality Faces feature from the summer issue. The introduction reads: "The flamboyant exhibition Fashionality closes at the McMichael Canadian Art
Collection this week. Find out more about its larger-than-life feel and its
works by Kent Monkman, Camille Turner and others in this feature from our Summer
2012 issue." You can read the article here:
Have you been to Gallery Bespoke? If not, you're in for a unique experience, described as
showcase of home furnishings as high art." Open by appointment, it is the Logan Ave. studio of Toronto-based designer and artist Camal Pirbhai, and a place to view his conceptual works, along with
collaborations with other artists. You can learn all about it, and about the artist, here:
Camal is also the creative genius behind
Studio La Beauté, also located on Logan Ave in Toronto. Here he works closely with architects and interior designers (locally and
internationally) to produce uniquely crafted furnishings for high-end
residential and luxury commercial projects. They are known for their artisanship
and their meticulous care in creating exceptional draperies and window treatments.
You can learn more about this side of Camal's practice here:
Fashionality artists Camal Pirbhai and Camille
Turner have joined forces to collaborate on a project that responds to the
star-studded celebrity culture of the Toronto International Film Festival where
fantasy meets reality. Social media will announce the arrival of Miss Canadiana
who will be seen during the festival making appearances in various locations.
Pirbhai has used couturier techniques to create a series of sashes for the
occasion and each day Miss Canadiana will be spotted wearing one of his fabulous
creations. The responses of the public will be documented to reveal a portrait
of the city during the festival.
These tiny sweaters were knitted by volunteers and donated during the Fashionality exhibition, for Michèle Karch-Ackerman's The Sweaters, which is part is part of a nationally-touring
installation ongoing since 2003, entitled The
Lost Boys. It explores the loss of young lives during the First World War
and in particular, the Newfoundland regiment who fought in the battle of
Beaumont Hamel. It weaves together the story of James Barrie's Peter Pan with the stories of so many
lives lost in the First World War, and expresses loss, remembrance and
The artist's intention is to knit or collect from
volunteers 801 sweaters for each soldier from the Newfoundland regiment who
fought in the battle of Beaumont Hamel.So
far the project consists of approximately four hundred miniature hand-made and -dyed
woollen sweaters knitted by the artist and an "army" of volunteers at
knitting bees across Canada. The artist dyes the sweaters and hangs them on
twig armatures for exhibition. Each volunteer adds a personal touch to the
pattern, and each sweater takes on a life of its own. Sometimes special details
are added (like a tiny toque, or a tag), and inside some of the sweaters,
knitters sometimes hide devotional letters. If you would like to contribute a sweater to the
project, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for the pattern and instructions. Feel free to add a devotional letter
to the soldiers, which you can tuck inside the sweater, where it will remain.
Sweaters will be accepted until September 1, 2012. At right is one included by a recent contributor.
the Battle of Beaumont Hamel Beaumont-Hamel is a commune in the Somme department in Picardy
in northern France.
During the First World War, Beaumont-Hamel was very close to
the front lines and saw heavy combat, especially during the Battle of the Somme which was the largest
Allied offensive of the entire war. July 1, 1916 was the opening day of the Battle of the Somme, and was a
slaughter for the Allies. Total Allied casualties on the opening day of the
Battle of the Somme were 57,470, of which 19,240 were fatal.
The 1st Newfoundland Regiment was one of the four battalions of the British
29th Division's 88th Brigade, and was virtually annihilated at the Battle of
Beaumont Hamel. 733 of 801 men in the 1st Newfoundland Regiment were killed or
wounded. In Newfoundland and Labrador, July 1 is Memorial Day to commemorate Newfoundland's heavy
losses in the battle.
Here's all the info. you'll need to get there, from the McMichael programming department:
"Visit Planet IndigenUs at Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre before hopping on the bus that departs at 12:30 p.m. to join Anna Stanisz, Assistant Curator, Education & Programs on a tour at the McMichael focusing on the works by Kent Monkman, KC Adams, Lori Blondeau, Dana Claxton, and Meryl McMaster, who are featured in this special exhibition. Spend an afternoon outside of the big city and be sure to enjoy a walk along the Humber river before your return bus trip."
Also in celebration of the festival, is another event, Saturday and Sunday, August 11 and 12 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., the Humber River Aboriginal Heritage Celebration. Check here for more information on this inspiring program:
Impossible to keep up with environmental fashionista extraordinaire, Nicole Dextras, these days. Don't miss the construction process of her astonishing "Yurt Skirt" unveiled on Canada Day at the McMichael, all documented on the gallery's Facebook page. Also, her "Little Green Dress Projekt," based on the four seasons, which features twenty-four "little green dresses," all made of organic materials using the measurements of, and inspired by the personalities of, real women. This will be part of
the Earth Art Exhibit at VanDusen Botanical Garden in Vancouver.
This just in: a rave review of Fashionality by Canada's doyenne of fashion, Jeanne Beker, in conversation with McMichael CEO Victoria Dickenson. Well done, ladies! The article also appeared in hard copy, in the Wednesday, June 20th edition of the Toronto Star (p E9). The word is out!
The McMichael is welcomes Fashionality artist Nicole Dextras, who is in residency at the gallery until July 1, 2012. Nicole will complete one of her astonishing Weedrobes eco-dress-performance-sculptures, which will be unveiled in a special performance at the McMichael's Canada Day ceremony.
The McMichael's fundraiser, Fashion as Art -- Exposed! was a tremendous success. Based upon the theme of the relationship between art and dress/fashion, the main event was the celebration of the "Group of Seven" fashion designers, who were showcased in a fashion show.
The McMichael crew did an magnificent job, and the show -- hosted by Fashion doyenne Jeanne Beker -- was stunning, with models showcasing the work of the designers to live "crazy classical" violin, and ending up standing in seven human-sized red picture frames. Everything else was equally perfect, including a raffle for a beautiful Charles Pachter painting, delicious nibbles and drinks, and gorgeous decorations.
Artists (from left) Barbara Pratt, Nicole Dextras, Camal Pirbhai, Camille Turner and guest curator Julia Pine.
As you'll see in the pictures, a number of the Fashionality artists were there. A wonderful night!
Here are some great photos from the FashionEcstacy blog:
Don't miss the upcoming Art Encounter at the McMichael on the 23rd of June. There will be a curator's "nature walk" through the exhibition focusing on work that intersects with the natural world, as well as a talk with Eco Artist Extraordinaire, Nicole Dextras. It's from 11:00 - 1:00 and $25, or $20 for members. Hope to see you there!
We are! Check out the Summer edition of Canadian Art Magazine, pages 56 - 57, for a short piece about the show, and a very fun photo of the Fashionality curator (yours truly), with the amazing Cathy Daley and Miss Canadiana. Warning: contains supermodels.
This weekend it is: Fashion as Art -- Exposed! A fantastic fundraiser at the McMichael featuring fine art fashionistas of the finest feathers . . .
Jeanne Beker hosting, cocktails and bling, the Group of Seven fashion designers extraordinaire, and glamour galore. Yes, you have died and gone to heaven. Clearly -- you need to be there. Here are the deets -- and be sure to note the shuttle bus service for the evening. Oooh la la!!
Yes, one day this curator will learn to speak to the press without hiccupping or guffawing. But -- what can I say, Kent Monkman has a wicked sense of humour -- in addition to his razor-sharp abilities at cultural critique. The following is an article from Carleton University Magazine, the summer edition. The hard copy of the article also has images of works by Lori Blondeau (COSMOSQUAW, 1996), and Mary Wong (from her Yellow Apparel series, 2004 - present).
Beyond Bucksin is a blog by Turtle Mountain Chippewa scholar, Jessica R. Metcalfe. In it she looks at the creation and signification of Native American fashion. See her feature on Fashionality, and check out the rest of this inspiring blog here:
This work by Kent Monkman, entitled High-heeled Moccasins. Machine loomed beads on vinyl shoes, 2007. Collection of the artist. One of several accessories worn by the artist's alter ego, Miss Chief Eagle Testickle, for various performances.
Jane Eccles, whose "The Dress Project" is featured in Fashionality, is now taking commissions for paintings of what she calls "Memory Dresses." If you are interested in one of these beautiful works, please read the following: The exhibition "Overlap" at the Station Gallery in Whitby in 2011 opened up my work to a wide audience. Since the close of the show I have been accepting commissions to paint memory dress paintings. Others who have stored garments and would like to realise these dresses in paintings can contact my studio for a commissioned dress painting. Large works are 36" x 48" and small works are 24" x 36" painted in acrylic on canvas. I will also record the story behind the dress and also accept an image of the original owner for future reference. Cost upon request.
The Justina M. Barnicke Gallery at the University of Toronto is currently showing a small but superb show called Sovereign Acts. Curated by Wanda Nanibush, it features work by several First Nations artists, including Lori Blondeau, who created the equally small but superb COSMOSQUAW piece on display in Fashionality. The show is highly recommended.
In case you can't make it to the show soon enough to see this, here's a small-screen sneak preview of Nicole Dextras' gorgeous Weedrobes video. It plays continuously in Gallery 12 next to three of Dextras' photographs.
Don't forget to "like" the McMichael Canadian Art Collection on Facebook! And when you do, check out the Fashionality posts, as well as the video of Canadian artist extraordinaire Charles Pachter talking to McMichael trustee Diane Wilson about the show and the upcoming fundraiser, "Fashion as Art -- Exposed!"