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Clothing is our second skin, our face we show to the world. Whether we are fashion plates, imaginative or simply oblivious, Clothing defines who we are, where we are from, our status, station, and activity. An imprint of our history resides in its fibers. Narratives also abound; stories connecting us to people, places, and activities, some personal, some public, some ceremonial. Piecing together garments, one begins to formulate an integration of stories-a book, an anthropological reading of a temporary gathering of people.
                    
  - Edith Abeyta, from her installation, Me, You, Us

unCommon threads
is a gathering of artists, all of whom tell tales, both cultural and personal, using garments and their structures as the framework. Some report the consequences of particular actions while others deconstruct and examine myths and mores. El Camino College Art Gallery is delighted to host this assembly of 12 Southern California artists in an exhibition that promises to be as varied as the artists are numbered.

Leslie Batty’s paintings explore the ways in which many societal systems seek to construct and constrain our ideas of identity and sexuality. She plays upon the ironies of how we invent ourselves within the context of history and culture.

The lace and gossamer of Susan Connell’s images in acrylic on linen, weave tales of ghostly joys and sorrows. Fallen Bird depicts the grief for a life unlived, a torso dressed in delicate 19th Century tatting.

Joyce Dallal and Lauren Kasmer collaborate in A Homesite Clothing Exchange, where the public is invited to barter or exchange a wearable item. Each participant is asked to write a short tag explaining why they are trading their item and why they selected a particular item from the racks and display units that comprise the installation. An active clothing exchange will take place during the reception, 3/31, 7-9 pm and again on 4/5, from 1-3 pm and 4/28, 1-3 pm.

The handbags and deconstructed-dress pattern pieces of Dawn Ertl are made almost entirely of plastic bags with printed logos. Ertl examines the relationship of producer, consumer and disposer, striving to create of use and longevity from products designed for limited lifespan and disposal.

Victoria May uses fabric and stitching as the basis for mixed media sculptures reflect a meticulous craft ethic. She incorporates evocative materials –human hair, leaves and sand within the folds of transparent garments as vehicles for metaphor of human conditions.

Compelling ceramic armor in the guise of feminine lingerie is the subject of Power, Culture, Icons, by Russell McMillin. Herein the artist reflects on the human search for self-awareness in relationship to acquisition of power.

Michael Lewis Miller draws upon early American history for the cultural roots of his performance-sculpture Pharmacognosy. From his ongoing series, Psycho Physical Prosthetic Wardrobe, in which handcrafted furniture pieces double as garments and expressions of psychological states, this traveling apothecary cabinet supplies medicine and magic.

Tightly Bound, a video by Rachel J. Siegel, utilizes her memory as a 7 year old girl, playing dress-up with a pair of Chinese bound-foot slippers. These tiny slippers that fit her 7 year-old foot become the vehicle for cross-cultural examination of the history of women’s beauty/torture rituals.

Suzanne Siegel carefully assembles and arranges items of personal clothing from departed relatives and friends, creating artworks that are simultaneously personal and universal. Desire and Despair, two pieces, made from women’s slips are adorned with objects ranging from razor blades to flowers.

Fairfax Ladies by Robin Valle are large format Cibachrome images of dresses gleaned from thrift stores in the Fairfax area of Los Angeles where she lived. Valle was a pioneer in the area of digital photography and was employed as faculty at El Camino College until she died in 2008.

Nancy Youdelman creates sculpture using both found objects and bronze. She transforms actual clothing with discards such as used buttons, anonymous photos, forgotten correspondence, leaves and dried flowers. It is her desire to suggest the fleeting, beautiful yet bittersweet nature of our existence in sometimes disquieting, artworks that offer homage to the distant past.

-SUSANNA MEIERS
Curator El Camino College Art Gallery

Suzanne Siegel
“On the Other Hand”, Mixed Media
Suzanne Siegel
“Despair”, Mixed Media

Check back soon to see images of the artwork from this exhibition.
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 Last Published 12/14/11