Chesley Williams: Conscientious Couture
Cliff Gallery at Mountain View College
Through May 31, 2013
Being a female that appreciates fashion especially when it’s gaudy, I was eager to see the new exhibit at Mountain View College’s Cliff Gallery. Conscientious Couture by emerging artist Chesley Williams integrates style and social awareness.
When I first saw the hats I was reminded of movies like Gigi or Moulin Rouge with Mel Ferrer. I asked Chesley if she was influenced by the fashion of turn of the century Paris but she told me no, she doesn’t look to any one time period for inspiration. Chesley is African American so I was also curious if she sought inspiration from the tradition of flamboyant church lady hats. She told me in hindsight it was possible but she really just focuses on shape, texture and how the piece fits on the head. The exhibit includes the hat displayed on a mannequin and also in a photograph worn by a model.
In addition to the high fashion aspect, Chesley has chosen to work with primarily recycled material. Plastic zip ties, roofing caps and washers as well as fabric and zippers are some of the building blocks of these pieces. This artist is not a dumpster diver. Her supplies are new items reclaimed before they made into a landfill. She uses services such as Scrap Denton for material.
Chesley’s artist statement says “Some individual pieces are a combination of almost forty different objects and materials. I consider the body functioning as an intermediary storage solution, instead of materials being deposited in a landfill, with the head serving as a focal point. The relationships between mundane and discarded materials can be read as a social document that presents a narrative about consumer culture. The art of dressing the head is a personal expression about the fashion of adornment and may exemplify one’s commitment to a sustainable course of action.”
Chesley just received her MFA one week ago so I asked her what’s coming up next. She told me that as well as being an artist, she considers herself a designer who hopes to open a boutique. Her business is already underway as Cantoinette Studio.
Conscientious Couture at the Cliff Gallery runs until May 31, 2013.
Normal Cliff Gallery hours are Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursday, Fridays from 12:00 to 6:00 p.m., and Wednesdays 2:00 to 7:00 p.m. If you would like to visit the gallery at a different time, just call (214) 860-3649 to arrange a time.
The easiest way to find the Cliff Gallery is to enter the parking lot from Duncanville Road. Park near Building S – follow the path to the left around Building S through the picnic area. Enter the doors go through the big room called the Treetop Lounge – veer to the right & the Cliff Gallery is down a short flight of stairs. There is a lift for persons unable to negotiate the stairs. Just Let David Kirkland know you need assistance.