Faith, Fate & Fashion

This was a crazy busy weekend what with everything that I usually do and the whirlwind of art events I mentioned last time.  I found the irony in meeting some Facebook friends for the first time at the Edgewood Gallery opening on Friday night so hilarious.  It was like a Saturday Night Live skit or something.  “I know all about you,” is what one woman said to me, along with insisting that I was stalking her on social media.  “You paint cats,” she said.  It was just so funny.  Later she spoke about her dream of meeting Faith Ringgold, to which I responded that I had met the artist.  Here’s the picture to prove it in case she thought I was totally lying.

Faith Ringgold and me 001

Faith Ringgold shared her art journey at Light Works at Syracuse University in 2007.  Her visit coincided with an exhibition of her work at the Community Folk Art Gallery here.  Faith is an incredible person – so inspirational and positive, and lovely.  She autographed her book for me and we chatted for a significant amount of time considering that she’d been signing books for a couple hours and there was a long line of people behind me.

Faith is on Facebook – her daughter posts updates regularly.  She’s currently working on an app that is based on quilting, which is geared to the elderly and can help improve memory function.  I feel like if I can have just half her energy and attitude I will someday make a difference in this world.  But I am always vacillating – that confident vs. insecure yo-yo mindset that grips just about every artist from time to time.  Did I make the right choices with my life?  Am I even good at what I do – artist, teacher, etc.?

When I was in college, Frank Goodnow, my painting professor, was surprised to find out I was a fashion design major.  “You are a painter,” he said. I think about that a lot when I wonder if I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing if one believes in fate.

Mona Lisa costume 001

I was reminiscing about this with Laurel Morton, a former classmate and current assistant professor in the fashion program at Syracuse University.  I visited her studio at the Delavan Center on Saturday and we chatted about the past.  I haven’t thought about those dreams in years and so it resurrected that whole road not traveled thing.  Had I moved to NYC  and taken that job at Ralph Lauren, would I have eventually become Marc Jacobs famous?

Statue of Liberty 001

I don’t know.  Maybe.  At SU, you took foundations courses in art as a freshman at that time (not sure how it is now) then you re-applied to your major.  I had originally planned on going into advertising, but only because I thought I needed to have a reasonable art career to satisfy my worried parents who were spending all of this money to send me there.  I was the eleventh person chosen for the competitive advertising program based on my freshman portfolio but at the last minute I chose fashion design, which had no such competition.  I thought I could see myself doing that.

Medusa costume 001

I eventually found my way back to painting and art, and teaching.  I mean, I can still design clothes.  But these days I only do it to create Halloween costumes.  My specialty is coming up with something that relates to an artist, art movement or culture for a costume that goes with an art lesson at school.

Indian costume 001

Frank Goodnow was right- I am a painter.  I really cannot imagine my life without mark-making.  Designing clothes is just another thing I can do.

Japanese outfits 001

The Edgewood Gallery show of work by Amy Bartell, Linda Bigness and Todd Conover will continue until January 2nd, 2015, btw, if you want to see it or buy something.



12 thoughts on “Faith, Fate & Fashion”

  1. Your costume designs are interesting, Karen. And worn well by all pictured. It’s healthy to ponder what if, and to come away with the feeling that what could have been might have been great, but what is satisfies you greatly. 🙂

    1. I’m sure the app works for all ages, I could certainly use a memory boost, although I have no use for a cell phone and have no idea what an app is, which maybe makes me seem “elderly”. I often walk over to my desk in my classroom then say – What am I doing here? And a student will remind me that I’m getting a pencil or whatnot. #losing_my_mind?

  2. Karen– Great post—that last weekend WAS a busy one and I am glad you are writing about it! One correction– I am a part time instructor, not an assistant professor at SU….. But I am still thinking about that idea we kicked off to take some basic patterning and paper fashion projects to your students. Let’s work on that!

    1. Thanks, Laurel. Yes – I am dying to do a fashion design project w/ students! My next project with my Studio in Art students is a sculpture of para-troupers. We are going to look at the work of Marisol Escobar and also use a bunch of harvested parts from old Barbie dolls I have collected from scouring flea markets through the years. Thanks for posting your comment!

  3. I just came across your blog post and enjoyed it. I got my BFA from S.U. in ’85 and remember Frank Goodnow’s Color and Design class. Sometimes at 8:30 a.m. he’d darken the room to show us slides and speak in his slow soothing voice. Remaining conscious could be a challenge, but I liked Frank a lot. My dad, James Dwyer, also taught painting at S.U. in those years and Frank and his wife Helen were close friends with my folks. Today I have a Goodnow oil on linen (titled “Gray Day”, a nice play on words, date unknown) hanging over the mantel in my dining room. It used to hang in my parents house and I’m guessing it was a gift to them or maybe a trade with my dad. I was googling Frank, trying to find images of his work or interesting bits of his story when I came upon your blog, Karen. Thanks for that!

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