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August 21, 2018

Wearable Art Journey | An Interview with Donna Caselden

Wearable Art Journey | An Interview with Donna Caselden by Jacqueline Ganim-DeFalco

Donna Caselden moved to Cape Ann from Andover and in five short years has exploded in her artistic endeavors. We now see her works on the runway, on the walls, and on tables.   Enjoy a deep-dive with Donna on her exciting journey.

What was your artistic/creative journey before doing wearable art?

I’ve always been interested in art and design. Growing up, my most memorable project in middle school was my science fair animation project. In college, though my major was Economics, what I really loved was my animation class.  In hindsight, I should have majored in art! After my formal education, I took many design and art classes at local universities and schools. When my kids were older, I started a home staging business, where I could use my design skills.

How did you first learn about the opportunity to create and show wearable art?

I first read about the 2011 Celebrate Wearable Art runway show and thought it looked amazing.  Then, when I saw the article a few years later asking for submissions, I thought it sounded challenging but would be fun and was also encouraged by my neighbors in Annisquam who had been involved.

What did you make for the show and what challenges did you encounter?

Metal Mermaid, CWAII, 2013 modeled by Gina Caselden

My first design, the Metal Mermaid, went through a ton of transformations (as does all of my artwork – whether it be wearable art, paintings, or decorating). I had to figure out a way to cut soda cans into uniform pieces. Researching the web, I found a punch that worked perfectly. While making the dress, my biggest disasters were getting cut, getting burned (adhering the metal with the hot glue gun!), and figuring out a way for the model to be able to move in the dress!

How did your art pieces evolve and lead you into other artistic directions or opportunities?

Since my first wearable art piece, I’ve made three other dresses (Biker Chic I and II, out of bicycle gears, chains and tires and The Penny Dress, out of hundreds of pennies), many pieces of jewelry, some sculpture and many paintings. I’ve joined a few art organizations (Cape Ann’s Experimental Art Group

Painting turned to wearable art piece for the NAA

at Rockport Art Association, Society for Encouragement of Arts (seARTS), the Rocky Neck Art Colony, and the National Association of Women Artists (NAWA), been accepted into art shows, and was even invited to help decorate the White House for Christmas.  I’ve also submitted my wearable art pieces to other runway events (ManneqArt, a show

Obselecents, CWA IV 2017 by Donna Caselden

incorporating sculpture on the human form, and The Day Art Met Fashion at Newburyport Art Association, where the image of one of my paintings was selected to be transferred onto clothing and is available

Psychosis

for purchase at a Newburyport boutique, The Elephant’s trunk.

Looking ahead, one of my paintings, Psychosis, was selected to be a part of Artcetera 2018, an art auction to benefit AIDS Action Committee, this October at The Castle at Park Plaza in Boston.

August 13, 2018

The House Dress Project | Telling important stories with Wearable Art

“The House Dress Project” by Kimberly Becker

Women have stories. We can each site examples of how we have been diminished, held down or overlooked in our lives simply because of our gender.  With “The House Dress Project”, I am providing a way to tell those stories.  

I have chosen to make wearable art pieces in the form of dresses to convey the stories because we use our clothing to show the world who we are.  We get dressed each day and choose how to present the person we are on the inside, on the outside.  What better way to tell our stories than with dresses. In past work, I have referenced clothing- bustles on painted panels, images of ball gowns, references to brides.  This is the first series where I embraced the garment, learned how to sew clothing, and took it all the way to “wearable art”.  Along with the House Dresses, I am currently creating delicate vests inspired by an antique lace vest that I found in the bottom of a pile of handkerchiefs in a junk shop in Paris. The vest was hand sewn with delicate stitches by someone over 100 years ago.   I am also creating collars (a nod to RBG). The collars tell stories too.  They have words embroidered on them and are made of fake fur, velvet and organdy.

To prepare to make the  House Dresses, I collect stories along with  the address of the house the storyteller lived in when the story occurred.  I sew each dress using cotton organdy and silk organza, paint an image of her house on the front, and then embroider the story on the back.

The stories are sometimes painful, sometimes maddening, and often times shifted a person’s whole life.  One woman told me about her grandmother, and how she wanted to be a scientist, but once married, was expected to “keep house and throw cocktail parties”.  Another woman tells of her inability to attend law school because her father would only pay for the boys to go.  Another explains how she always felt more like an object than a person in her family. 

The dresses have a diaphanous quality. They are lovely and draw you in, only to confront you with the uncomfortable stories they carry. The delicate quality of the fabric mimics lingerie and discusses the exploitation of our women’s by society. 

 I started this project months before the #metoo movement.  I honestly believe that it is being received by the public with more open minds. People want to understand.  Many visitors to the galleries they have been shown in have told me that they had to step away for a moment because the dresses stirred up many emotions for them.  Several have come away in tears.  The stories are personal, but in a way, universal. The overwhelming comments I receive are appreciation for giving voice to these women, and in doing so, beginning to write our full history, including women.

The next phase of the “House Dress Project” is called “Roe House Dresses”. These stories discuss both the difficult decision to have an abortion,  and also the great benefit that having access to a legal abortion provides.  Planned Parenthood is one such example.  Many of us received our first OBGYN care at a Planned Parenthood and those stories matter.  Women’s rights are slowly disappearing under the current administration and we must keep sharing our experiences.

Wearable Art provides me with a vehicle for giving women a voice.  I have always believed we can be feminists and still enjoy high heels or a gorgeous cocktail dress.  By creating art that is carried by the body, we are delivering a message that we are powerful, we have stories to tell and we are women.

All of my dresses are for sale. However, often people commission me to create a dress for their personal story. 

Kimberly kindly wrote and contributed this piece to WearableArt.org as part of our annual theme “The Tranformative Power of Wearable Art.”  seARTS and the Wearable Art Group are most grateful for this contribution.  Kimberly is a Waltham resident and a 1990 graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design.  She  was recently featured in the RISD alumni magazine and also in the Boston Globe.  She is a painter and embroiderer with a rich educational background complemented by innovative exhibitions throughout New England.  Follow her on Instagram.

March 13, 2018

“Silk Journey”, by Christine Gauthier-Kelley | On Growing and Becoming an Artist

“Surrender” on Silk

Approaching “Silk Journey” Art Exhibition: Opening March 16 at Manchester Historical Museum – a post by Christine Gauthier-Kelley

Here we go again…..up the learning curve, or shall I say up the growing curve! My first solo full-museum exhibition of my hand-painted silks is about to launch – but this time it’s all my paintings and wall décor and all my wearable designs, hundred plus pieces! I’ve done lots and lots of shows and sent work to far-away places for exhibits and runway shows, but this is a full museum, solo art exhibition challenge. It’s my first big solo show. It’s at this time that I reflect on the forces that came before in my life that make me embrace the challenge and “Go, Dog, Go” with full confidence that I can pull it off. I’m thinking that artists have an unrecognized and difficult journey; our work has to develops artistically and change as our lives change, and we also have to keep that other side of the brain sharp and honed and ready to meet the challenges of getting our work into the world for others to share. It’s a two-fold journey with many twists, turns and obstacles to overcome.

“Love not Burden” on silk

Developing as an artist, my journey began when I was a child and one of my favorite games was to lay in the grass and cloud gaze to see what I could see. When I look back I might have predicted I would love painting images of our universe and designing wearable art; I used to raid the cedar closet (and upset many) to see what finds were there to cut up and re-configure to a new design of my own! Through the many years and other careers, I never stopped creating because of the sense of connection and wholeness it provides. My drive to work as an artist was always to arrive to a place of depth and transcendence that I could reach through my art experience. But there were always the tedious “thinking” details of medium and technique, subject, executing skills, and thinking about the outcome. And then I met Silk, the ultimate artistic experience for me. I became as free as the dye’s liquidity as it meanders where it will, flowing across the silk, and becoming one with the silk. It is ….In-the-moment…….Accepting what is…….Allowing the flow…….Go where it goes…….Freeing up from the outcome. I love this most unpredictable art form. Every piece is an experience that only gets better by letting the piece lead me as it creates itself. I see now that all the years and many mediums of the past were my “practice”. The art form itself centered me, challenged me, then freed and moved me forward artistically.

Moving my work out into the world, I’m thinking of my “other career” professional education at Northeastern University that kept throwing me into safe but pretty uncomfortable new medical practice areas, preparing me so well that I carried the Code Call Beeper a year out of nursing school. And I thank my boss David for standing me up in front of a national NIH Research Steering Committee in Bethesda MD to give a lecture to seasoned and world-renowned M.D.s, building my confidence with an audience. I’m thanking Steve who stood me in front of major pharmaceutical industry executives and told me I could best sell them our clinical research services. And Joe who sent me around the world to new corporate offices to fix and unify his company operations so it could grow as one, not 10 companies.

“Mermaid” on the runway at CWAIV by Christine Gauthier-Kelley

Yes, all that came before my silk art career, but it was seARTS and the Wearable Art Group that gave me the opportunity to bare my soul and display my entire artistic self that I’d kept on the side, in the closet, my little secret all those other years. Here I stand, a full-time artist, with this new big personal Mount Everest in front of me. But this one is so very different, because when we are Artists, our product is a bit of our innermost being and soul that we manifest, bringing it to others to share. For me my art was never about a product….it is about creation, manifestation, inspiration, the feeling of touching the very spirit of myself and others.

So I’m about to bare it all, telling my art story through my work from the time of my teen years until now. I would not have done more work to prepare even if I’d been at the MFA, because all those people in my past taught me to do it to world class perfection. In this moment when I’m pretty much “ready” to install in 2 days I want to acknowledge and thank seARTS & the Wearable Art group.  I can still remember the first time I sought to be an exhibitor and runway artist for the CWA II Fashion Show.  Chair Jacqueline Ganim-DeFalco said “Chris if you are going to do this you really need to work on a good display and have inventory. You’ll be beside the best”. I worked day and night to create to fill my display. With success under my belt I started applying for and submitting to venues, challenge after challenge, it’s gone well and my work is now international. I could just say, “good for me”, but I’m putting the Cape Ann Wearable Art initiative and seARTS on my thank you list, because they did for me just what the Mission says, encouraged me and gave me opportunities to put myself out there, to up my game, to broaden my audience, and now to stand here, unafraid to bare my soul and show it all to the world. Thank you!   More info here: Silk Journey

December 20, 2017

Celebrate Wearable Art IV: Highlights Slideshow

Enjoy these colorful highlights of each look in October’s Celebrate Wearable Art IV Runway event!  Many thanks to our talented script-writer, Maureen Aylward for these detailed and important descriptions of each work of art.  For a full set of photos, please visit Clark Linehan’s Flickr account. Here you will see 393 wonderful photos by Clark.   To see us in print, check out the Winter 2017 Issue of Cape Ann Magazine!

 

October 30, 2017

Jen Greeke| Inspiration & Experience creating “Paved Paradise”

Paved Paradise shared “Best of Show” honors in the 2017 CWAIV Runway Event

PAVED PARADISE represents for the designer the realities of the world and is a reflection of how she sees herself.  People and nature are echoed in the hard outer shell of the jacket and the multi-colored textured pants that focus on the wonderful “mess” we discover when we boldly take down our barriers.

 


“I have been participating in the seARTS wearable art shows since they started, but I usually submitted my fashion work, which is one type of wearable art. This year I wanted to do something different, a real wearable art piece. I was a bit lost on what to do, but after seeing the World of Wearable Art exhibit at the Peabody Essex Museum I was excited to really challenge myself.

 I’ve always considered myself an artist and then a fashion/costume designer. The process of designing and making my Paved Paradise piece was very personal and slow, each section was inspired by how I felt that day. I knew what I wanted to say, but just how it was going to look in the end was a very stressful question mark. I knew I wanted to speak about myself and what I felt about the world in general. This beautiful mess we are and the lengths we to go cover it up with barriers and convention.  Taking this leap by devoting so much time and effort into this piece helped me realize so much about myself.  It helped me hash out what excited me about fashion design.  I found a love for wearable art and am so excited to start the next piece.  I recommend every type of artist try it out.  You might be surprised!”