Class 9: A Visit from Folk Couture Guest Curator Alexis Carreno

When the Teen Docents arrived at the American Folk Art Museum, they were greeted by the new exhibition Folk Couture, which presents work by thirteen contemporary fashion designers inspired by objects from the Museum’s collection. Five of the students had seen the exhibition the previous week, but it was the first time the rest of them were able to explore it. To start off the class, Walid led the group over to Koos van den Akker’s gown, which was inspired by five very different works of folk art, for an in-depth and lively introductory discussion.

Then, students were treated to a visit from Folk Couture’s guest curator, Alexis Carreno.


Carreno, a PhD candidate who hails from Chile, was gracious, enthusiastic, and truly interested in the Teen Docents’ ideas and opinions. He presented the exhibition by challenging students to think about questions like:

  • Are fashion and art different? How?
  • What does it mean to have a fashion exhibition in an art museum?
  • How does folk art, in particular, relate to fashion?
  • What do fashion and folk art have to do with identity?

The students had many thoughtful responses to his questions. He then led the way into the gallery to discuss work by Fabio Costa, Bibhu Mohapatra, and threeASFOUR. Students debated which garments they would wear (Costa’s!) and which they wouldn’t, the symbolism and theme’s of religious tolerance behind threeASFOUR’s work, and much more.



After thanking Alexis for his time and generosity, students made quick sketches of their own designs based on folk art objects on view. Vivian remixed a New Mexican porcupine sculpture into a more wearable dress than what Jean Yu created, Francia created a color-blocked kimono from a piece Koos van den Akker was inspired by, and Melissa transformed a howling wolf sculpture into an incredible idea for a hooded dress.


Teen Docents, leave your thoughts about this class in the comments!


5 thoughts on “Class 9: A Visit from Folk Couture Guest Curator Alexis Carreno

  1. I’ve always wondered why people that liked the same music and had the same taste in food – seemed to also like the same clothes. Somehow, there was a connection. Some kind of agreement of culture. Of course it hadn’t been announced that people that ate a specific food or liked a specic genre of music had to wear that one dress, sneakers, belt or hat, it was just a natural occurring thing. So much that stereotypes could even be made from the clothes these people wore- of course those were just stereotypes and not known facts, but still the person wearing the embellishment usually had a tiny connection to the stereotype. I hadn’t know the exact reason behind this peculiar noticing, that is until Alexis Carreno explained some the fashion designers creation process. Fashion is art through narrative. A line is usually created following a theme or inspiration of a lifestyle. So it is no doubt that an urban inspired line would inspire those living in a city, and that a country inspired line would inspire those living in rural areas. Clothing lines are not neccesirily explicit in their inspirations, but they can become a tad more explicit through the kind of customer who purchases the product. What a peculiar thing! I guess there really is a reason for everything.

  2. I think that fashion has to do with identity in a way that means for many years humans have different cultures where many people have a way of wearing clothes that inspire emotions. Sometimes when you see a person wearing many different colors you would think that they were so lively and loved patterns. This maybe inspires you to try out this outfit and see how it works out for you.

  3. While Alex Carreno visited it become abvious that fashion and art are very similar because fashion brings art and drawings, and art has pictures and drawings. Both of them are similar brings a lot of thoughts, images and inspirations.

  4. I really enjoyed having Alexis Carreno speak to us about the exhibition he was able enhance my knowledge on the differences and similarities between fashion and art. He challenged our thinking by asking us what we though the people visiting the museum think when they see something as different as this. What challenged me the most was trying to express what i was thinking, but I was surprised by how interesting of a class it was.

  5. I received Alexis Carreno message as Fashion and Art being very similar. Any piece of Art can be fashion. For example Koos van den Akker’s dress, which was inspired by five very different works of folk art, shows how he took 5 pieces of Art, and turned it into fashion, giving me the message that fashion can be inspired by art. Folk art relates to fashion, because there both independent; In Folk art, you choose the rules, there is no one telling you what is right and wrong, same with fashion, you choose what to wear, and your style .

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