Unlike the typical gallery environment, where pristine white walls provide a blank slate as a backdrop, the “Dimensional Lines: Art + Dress” exhibition (September 11–November 6) underscores the 82-year-old Evanston Art Center’s active state of decay. Curator Gillion Carrara and contributing curator and artist Fraser Taylor invited eight Chicago-based artists to respond to the mansion’s crumbling facade “architecturally, historically and emotionally,” Taylor says. The interdisciplinary band of artists, who each have one foot in the world of fashion and the other in an additional artistic realm, created the featured works specifically for this show. As for the space, Carrara and Taylor enlisted the help of freelance theater designers Mary Griswold and Geoffrey Bushor to disorient the viewer, playing with light, creating haunting sound effects and installing additional temporary walls. Three participating artists tell us about the process and concepts behind their “Dimensional Lines” pieces.
“Exploring an interest in building three-dimensional drawings, my installation occupies and demonstrates a liminal space, somewhere between being constructed and being destroyed all at once,” says Taylor, who formerly worked in fashion as a textiles designer and now focuses on drawing, painting, printing, sculpture and animation. “Working with wood, steel and wire, the materials are coated in black to manifest the decay, erosion and evolution of Evanston Art Center. Structures will project horizontally from an architectural arrangement, which will respond to and be situated in one of the ground-floor galleries…[drawing] a physical connection between the interior and exterior of the building.”
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“I do a lot of deconstructing in my work, but I also build up,” says the dressmaker, designer and artist, who’s known for repurposing ’80s and ’90s leather coats into accessories and garments. “I’m going to create a wall grid out of various linear elements (such as thread, ribbon and seam tape) associated with dressmaking.…The wall will be under transformation throughout the course of the exhibit…where silk thread becomes a buttonhole thread, which then becomes ribbon trim, which then becomes hem for an armhole, ultimately making its way into garments, not necessarily in that order. For me, it’s about addressing the various layers of a building’s various facades, trying to create a metaphor with the various layers that go into a garment… I’m interested in revealing the fundamental structures common to dressmaking that create this facade.”
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“I want to address what I call memory trace, my made-up memory of the space,” says Schnabl, a fashion designer and School of the Art Institute of Chicago professor who often works as a costume designer. Reusing cotton and linen garments from her own line, she’s created a netlike structure linking the inside of the house to the outside. “[The garments are] going to be exposed to the elements. It’s deliberate in a sense that as the place is decaying, and my idea of how the memory is changing, the structure is invited to react and change.”
“Dimensional Lines: Art + Dress” • Evanston Art Center, 2603 Sheridan Rd, Evanston (847-475-5300) • Sept 11–Nov 6; free