Tuesday, June 3, 2008

J. Morgan Puett

So before I start fawning over my new OBSESSION I just want to give a shout out to Asare over at Scrambl3r, who ran up to me at the Union St. Fair this weekend, and asked to photograph me for his blog (which, BTW is definitely worth checking out!). Aww, I was (and am) so flattered! Click here to see "my" post, wherein my style is described quite poetically. I especially like the "*pow* a bright slice of blue!!" part. :) Thanks for your kind words, Asare! You made my day!(That's me in my new dress, BTW)

It is VERY VERY rare that I get this excited. So listenup. :) I think I may have found a new hero, a new inspiration, muse, master. I am very excited but I am going to try to relate everything as calmly and logically as possible.

So the other day I was perusing one of the blogs it is my wont to peruse, reclaiming miss havisham, which I recommend if you like drama, when I came across a post about a recent Apartment Therapy feature, about an artist's colony much in the tradition of the Black Water School, and get this - billed as "a steampunk version of an anthropologie store."
Intrigued? Why, yes, I WAS!
Apartment Therapy linked me over to this NY Times article, which contains the below pictures. The photos are of Mildred's Lane - a plot of land in rural Pennsylvania that Puett bought and transformed into an artist's colony. The photos are of the main house which she decorated in the style of "romantic decay." Turns out, but I'm getting ahead of myself, she was quite a prolific creator and fashion designer (but also so much more!) prior to this endeavor.

So I saw these pictures of that INCREDIBLY atmospheric home and decided I had to learn more about this lady who, incidently, and this only piqued my curiosity even more, named her son Grey Rabbit. So I visited her website, and to my delight found a whole array of projects! Here are some photos of pieces of her collections, from when she was focusing more on fashion, and this is what she writes about them:

"From 1984 to circa 2001, I created seasonal designer collections based on the missing links that institutions overlooked. Based both on Early American textiles and contemporary styling, my garments referred to the early age of photography, from turn-of-century erotica to the Depression era."

Some of her textiles include, washed linen, washed silk, silk-screened silks, and waxed textiles (her father was a bee-keeper (Oh, guess what?!?!? She's from GEORGIA! Be still, my heart!)) This is precisely one of the things I love so much about Alabama Chanin. This respect and investigation into American traditions and history.
J Morgan Puett also not only respected the old traditions of dying, embellishing, and making textiles, but also used these age old techniques with her garments.

Mary Jane Jacob says this of Cottage Industry, one of Puett's boutiques cum performance spaces:

"In Cottage Industry Puett draws from a deep local rootedness of history and imagery to evoke, through textiles, stories of feminine pursuits at home, women's work and roles, and industrial sites of exploitation. For this project she takes female garments through making and through history -- from designing to dyeing to sewing to marketing, from the 18th century to the present -- employing extensive research and extended collaborations with artists and others from the city and region. It centers on the creation of a multi-class, multi-part garment with which she pieces together missing social histories. Based on museum sources, local architectural details, and everyday textiles, her "products" are a line of women's clothing for sale and a pattern for popular consumption to do-it-yourself. Workers are on view daily in a "performative" workshop that "exhibits" the process of garment preparation and invites viewers to engage in art and art production in the course of everyday life experience."

Photos below:

Below: pictures of her New York boutiques cum installation spaces. Puett, of course, designed the interiors. A gallery press release says this of her stores:

"Georgia native J. Morgan Puett emerged in the mid-1980s as a fashion designer. Her distinctive style, which drew from sources that explored the history of garments, were hand-made, crafted of hand-dyed natural fabrics, often in wrinkled, informal states. Her quirky SoHo retail space was heralded for its evocative environment–a bewildering combination of store, art installation, architectural remnant, and factory. Models rode a salvaged merry-go-round for fashion shows, the whirr of sewing machines provided a soundtrack, celebrities mingled with artists, and clothing shared shelf space with antique farm equipment. The Wooster Street space was abuzz with activities, including art exhibitions, poetry readings, concerts, tarot card readings, as well as memorable manicures provided by critic Rhonda Lieberman. It effectively served as an ad-hoc center for New York’s creative producers. This multifaceted studio-cum-store drew comparisons to Warhol’s Factory for its spontaneity."

This is so how I want my life to be! Fashion as avant-garde performance and installation art! Hello! Models on salvaged carousels? Beeswax-dipped silk? Performance spaces cum boutiques? In, in, IN!!!

Some more interiors below:

And even her fridge is a work of art! Listen to what the Times article says:

"Ms. Puett’s vision reaches even into the refrigerator, which she has transformed into a strange, constantly shifting vignette of fresh food, old textiles and unusual scientific vials. “I buy beautiful and grotesque foods and try to put them in a new context,” she said. A broccoli floret sits on an antique candlestick, a pomegranate and brown eggs in a glass vase, carrots in ceramic pots. All liquids are decanted into glass measuring vessels.

It inspires me to cook an inventive meal,” she said. “You create different games to shop by.” Sometimes, she said, she buys only food that starts with a certain letter: “B” for beef and beets, or “C” for cod and cauliflower. “That’s how you create new problems instead of solving them in order to break old habits and throw things out of equilibrium,” she said. Dinner parties at Mildred’s Lane are surreal affairs, with morsels of food skewered on 18th-century hatpins stuck into plates of moss."

Not to keep going on and on about this woman, but check out this project she did! This one is called the Grafter's Shack. The website describes it thusly:

"One of the central preoccupations of my practice has been the notion of the artist's or designer's workshop/ studio. The status of the amateur seamstress, small scale honey producer or queen breeder, and their relationships respectively to the sewing studio, honey workshop, or work shack, have a shared relevance in that all spaces are sites of artisan practice, rather than industry."

She embroidered the silk veil below with the reproductive parts of the queen bee.

I LOVE bees and this totally reminded me of one of my favorite books, The Secret Life of Bees which is also concerned with bee-keeping culture! D, very on point, describes her work, as "life size shadow boxes."

Anyways, I'm totally giddy, and I've basically reposted the entire site here (BUT I HAVEN'T!!! That's the crazy thing!!!! She's got LOADS more projects! Go check them out!)so I think I'll let you go, but suffice it to say, I am totally awed!!! I feel like shouting and dancing! Yay!

Like I said, it's very rare that I get this excited.

1 comment:

cb said...

Widzielismy tez Twoje zdjecie na innym blogu. Tatta