Acknowledged as the first professional African American and Native American sculptor, Edmondia Lewis was a talented classical American artist and manipulator of marble. The fact that her life is bookended by hazy details at its beginning and end, only makes this gifted artisan an even more intriguing individual, to say the least.
This summer, I had the opportunity to visit Toronto, Ontario and attend an exquisite little show at the Bata Shoe Museum that I had discovered whilst searching the web for my museum exhibits article from April. Despite the specific name of the museum, this beautifully-curated exhibit contained vast amounts of information and a darling selection of extant 19th-century garments, accessories, and related manufacturing equipment, in addition to, of course, a lovely and satisfying variety of shoes.
Fashion Victims: The Pleasures and Perils of Dress in the 19th Century is a gem of an exhibit that would interest not just lovers of footwear, but those who are fond of the strange, dark, dirty and tragic side of the 1800s.
Thanks partially to the leaps and bounds in the printing industry and its technology and the sudden abundance of new periodicals, journals, books, newspapers and other printed materials in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, there existed a great need for illustrators to help fill the printed page to the brim with imagery. Many gifted women were able to rise to the occasion during the Golden Age of American illustration, and took advantage of the opportunity to demonstrate their capable skills.
One such artist was Elizabeth Shippen Green (1871-1954), whose delicate, wistful and beautiful illustrations graced the pages of Harper’s Monthly Magazine, where she became the first women staff artist back in 1901.
I could wander at length around most museums, finding endless, personal, and silent entertainment in what is on view. Personally, a great collection or exhibit has the ability to both exhilarate and to exhaust the mind; the inspiration I glean is abundant and utterly gratifying in the most sublime of manners.
There happen to be an amazing array of fashion and historic costume-inspired exhibits that are currently on view, or are slated for dates within the next year. Keep on reading to discover a few of the gems that I am really excited about!
With awards season upon us, the question on the tip of many red carpet hosts’ tongues is ‘Who are you wearing?’ Nowadays, thanks to an omnipresent media coverage and the breakneck speed at which information travels, we’re privy to the designers of the famous and rich members of the world, from Michelle Obama and Kate Middleton, to the starlets of the red carpet brigade and beyond.
Of course, over the years, well-known designers and dressmakers have been trying to make their brands as ubiquitous as possible, but, long before even the technology of radio was available to the masses, individual dressmakers made their livings, frequently in their immediate locale, and in the process becoming lost in or simply overlooked throughout the course of history. Thus, in the hopes of shedding some light on these artisans, for this week’s Gal-lery, I present to you Elizabeth Keckley (although it is sometimes alternately Keckly), personal seamstress to a First Lady with whom many are familiar.