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!