Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Folk Couture

Folk Art Inspires High Fashion

Folk art has inspired today’s fashions. As a record of time and place, folk art is, essentially, functional art that has been made beautiful. The American Folk Art Museum is hosting a traveling exhibit that bridges the gap between the two. The final installation of Folk Couture: Fashion and Folk Art runs from February 4 to April 29, 2018.

The exhibit, which has already been shown at the American Folk Art Museum in New York, the Huntsvilles Museum of Art in Alabama and the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens in Florida, features the work of more than a dozen designers who were inspired by folkart.

The Artists

The designers include Catherine Malandrino and Bibhu Mohapatra, among many others.

Malandrino’s designs bring together her native French couture with what has been called the street style of New York. Her iconic Flag Dress that features the American flag and is a statement about freedom, individuality, risk, fun, and open space, according to Malandrino.

She has designed a handkerchief dress that takes turn-of-the-century papercut with Odd Fellows symbols to a whole new level. Like the symbols, it too is meant to be a statement of fellowship and love.

A hand-held book of tattoo patterns gave Mohapatra insights into the stories tattoos can tell. Imagining a sailor at sea, he envisioned the body of water around the sailor to be like a woman. The result is a dress with suggestive tattoo designs beneath the garment’s watery organza surface. “She looks as if she has tattoos all over her body and this wave of organza is floating over. It is a dream, it is a reality, and it is also a fantasy,” said the Indian designer.

Special Program

Part of this unique exhibit includes a series of free talks by the designers who will give presentations on their respective folk art influences and artistic processes. For a complete schedule click here.

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Thursday, January 4, 2018

African Orishas

Yoruba Mythology Bridging Generations with Color

According to Yoruba cosmology all human beings possess a destiny or fate that will ultimately become one in spirit with Olodumare.  Olodumare, one of the three manifestations of the Supreme Creator in this rich pantheon, carries the responsibility of coordinating the Universe and can be found in Orishas. These deities possess the ability to embody aspects of Olodumare and serve as intermediaries between humans and the supernatural.

To illustrate, literally, how some of these male and female appearances have shown up in physical world, Nzinga-Christina Reid has recently created the easy to understand Yoruba Mythology Coloring Book: The Gods and Goddesses of Yorubaland. The book honors African spirituality and the celebrates its ancient history which is rooted in West Africa’s Nigeria.

Crossing the Atlantic

Basic characteristics and traits of the Orishas crossed the Atlantic with the Africans during their force migration passage, according to the Reid. The author, a licensed master social worker is also founder of Black Diaries, Inc. This non-profit was established to share the personal narratives of people of color. She also serves as Associate Adjunct faculty at Columbia University School of Professional Studies.

 “I wanted something people could easily access, do something to relax, and (be) kind of carefree,” in learning, said Reid, of the soft cover 24-page book that is designed to encourage discussion and conversation.

It is also meant to be a missing link for those of all ages who seek to know their pre-slavery ancestry. According to her formal education in the United States “normally includes Greek Mythology, whereby students are taught Zeus, Apollo, and others, yet information about African mythology is omitted.”

Yoruba Mythology Coloring Book: The Gods and Goddesses of Yorubaland is available on Amazon ($8.99) and is an affordable and practical gift-giving idea for Black History Month as well as birthdays and holidays.

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