621 Gallery presents:

Glamor & Mimicry

an exhibition by Kathryn Shrive


Artist Statement:

My artistic practice stems from a marriage of two long-held interests: my academic background in painting and drawing and my lifelong investigation of fiber craft, introduced to me during childhood by the women in my family. Focusing on how they specificity to materials and making processes play in to the placement of made works on the spectrum between Art and Craft, I make pieces that vibrate between the languages of Art and various forms of “off-arts” (craft, design, fashion) in order to frustrate the loaded hierarchies that separate these categories. I’m interested in the valuing and politics of function, labor, and the shifting status of different materials, makers, and practices as “minor.”

As my most recurrent material, beadwork has been significant to my research on the instability of divisive lines between categories of making. Linked with histories of colonialism, femininity, labor, costume, and craft, beads upset dynamics of power, identity, value and taste. This transformative tendency allows for works that alternate between hesitantly accepting and defiantly evading categorization.

In Glamor & Mimicry, the craft methods and materials of the fashion and interior design industries are examined for their ability to both compliment and antagonize Art as an institutional category. These industries bring up three major points of frustration fro the art world: function, decoration, and trendiness. Making art that mimics fashion and design, and making fashion and design that mimic art, the delineations between good and bad taste, the timeless and trendy, the crafted and created are aggravated to upend institutional and historical assertions of categorical hierarchies between fields of cultural creativity.

Centering around themes of glamor and mimicry, this work is heavily influenced by discourse around the concepts of glamor and mimicry as tactics for evading classed and gendered hierarchical categories. John Berger’s discussion of glamor in Ways of Seeing relates glamor to envy and status in an age in which consumption is advertised as a tool for upward social mobility. Glamor is material, comparative and inextricably linked with status and evaluation. Thus, convincingly mimicking glamor may be a way to evade marginalization, but its also a Sisyphean task that feeds directly into consumer capitalist objectives and systems of value. Thinking of what happens when categorized creative disciplines begin to behave in similar ways, I’ve come to understand mimicry conceptually through the feminist lens of Luce Irigaray’s work, who positions it as a tactic for negotiating one’s place in relation to an oppressive power. By adopting practices put into use by an oppressor, one can subvert, examine, or evade the forces at play; I want to look at the possibilities for destabilizing dialogic marginalization and disciplinary tension between creative fields.

The comparative status of Art and Design becomes more oscillatory the closer it is examined. Does contemporary art ever mimic fashion and design to its benefit? What does that say about the role of art in our world today? Through these questions, I look at the labor that mimicry involves and how this mimicry is tied to the valuing of labor. With mimetic materials and artistic prodding, I seek to tease out the different ways art enacts glamor in comparison to design and fashion, and find what these say about the ways we delineate Craft and Art.

For more information about the artist, please visit their website: https://www.kathrynshriver.com/