Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Opens The Barefoot Designer: A Passion for Radical Design & Community by Carla Fernandez

. April 20, 2014

The` Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum presents The Barefoot Designer: A Passion for Radical Design & Community by Carla Fernandez on view from April 17th, 2014 through September 1, 2014.

Carla Fernández: Eagle Warrior Suit Charro Collection Autumn/Winter 2009 Model: Ramiro Guerrero Photo: Mark Powell Location: Casa

Carla Fernández: Eagle Warrior Suit Charro Collection Autumn/Winter 2009 Model: Ramiro Guerrero Photo: Mark Powell Location: Casa

This first-ever fashion exhibition at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum explores the development of a new visual fashion design language that Fernández has built across two decades. She uses a method dubbed “the Square Root,” which is based on the Mexican tradition of making clothing with squares and rectangles. The process places the emphasis on the forms of fabric and the delicate, thoughtful construction process, which is based on whole fabric, rather than cutting in curves and molding to the body.

The Barefoot Designer is multi-faceted exhibition consisting of garments, textiles, drawings, photographs, performance, video, workshops and source materials demonstrating Fernández’s multi-layered design process. A key component of that process is her design workshop Taller Flora, a mobile laboratory that collaborates with Mexico’s indigenous communities. New radical designs are generated while preserving the traditional textile techniques. This is a sustainable business model based on close collaboration with and recognition of local knowledge and talent.

Color, mobility and creativity are the signposts around which The Barefoot Designer is conceived and structured. During her career, Fernández has worked with many indigenous communities throughout Mexico. The exhibition will highlight the styles and techniques of five States: Chiapas, Yucatan, Campeche, the State of Mexico and Mexico City. Designs inspired by each region are color-coded according to geographical area.

Mobility and collaboration can be seen and felt throughout the exhibition: in its installation, multiple films and monthly dance performances, as well as, its workshops for the public. The garments and mannequins are positioned on life-sized, mobile displays. Fernández has also activated the garments through a live and filmed dance performance by dancers Raushan Mitchell and Silas Reiner, bringing to life the notion of “clothing as canvas.”
The collaborative approach with artists and artisans from different disciplines is characteristic of the way Fernández works. The Barefoot Designer will include short process videos of weavers, embroiders, and carpenters by photographer and filmmaker Ramiro Chaves, as well as fashion films produced by Chaves and Pedro Torres in New York City, Boston and Mexico City. Also, a series of fashion shoot photographs by photographer Graciela Iturbide will be on view.

A large workshop table adds a hands-on visitor experience to the exhibition, featuring workshops in embroidery and tassel making, as well as weekly demonstrations illustrating the Square Root method. The exhibition will also be complemented by master weavers, pop-up studios by Boston-based designers, and a waistloom workshop with two indigenous master weavers from Chiapas. Fernández will run a two-day clothing workshop as well as workshops with the Gardner’s School and Community Partnership Programs. The table will also include examples of textiles, books, and iPads illustrating the embroidery techniques and weaving processes used by the different communities.

A related lecture series will accompany the exhibition on select dates in Calderwood Hall. For a full listing and description of lectures see below. For more information about this exhibition or other Museum programming, please visit www.gardnermuseum.org.

Category: Museum News

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