Monica D. Murgia

Art, creativity, and fashion
October 30th, 2013 by Monica Murgia

Time, Part II

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Time is finite.  Time is so precious because none of us knows how much of it we have.   Being fully present in the current moment can be difficult, but it is the only way of truly living.  Regrets are a consequence of living in the past.  Anxiety is a consequence of living in the future.  Being here, now, is the surest way to make every moment count.

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Creating is the process that allows me to be fully present.  It gives me a way of allowing everything to melt away: no distractions; no worries of the past or future; no clinging desperately to ideas, people, or things.  It’s my way of enjoying my immediate environment. Its my way of appreciating the gift of being alive.  Recently, I’ve been interested in recording where I stand in a space.  It really makes me present in capturing the moment, feeling, and perspective of my day.

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This week something happened that made me realize I may have become a bit complacent with my life.  A friend of mine from college died.  Her name was Maureen.  She was only 29.  Maureen was brilliant, vivacious, and an inspiration.  She was passionate about everything she did.  Maureen was great at designing the life she wanted and making it a reality.  She had the ability to make every moment count.

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I was so sad to hear of her passing.  It was too soon.  Thoughts flooded my mind after receiving the news.  Each thought pointed to the same message: make the time for the people you care about, make the time for living the life you dream about.  We are not promised a tomorrow.  Don’t delay the important things.  Chase your dreams.  Don’t be afraid to fail.  Fall in love.  Be present in creating the life you want, even when the risks are terrifying.  Because in the end, your life is more important than your fear.

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In memory of Maureen Abboud.

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October 24th, 2013 by Monica Murgia

Time

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Do you make the time to observe your surroundings?  I mean really observe your surroundings.  It’s easy to let the day slip away, a passing blur like in the passenger window.  Constant distractions are literally at the tips of our fingers.

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Today I got to see one of Banksy’s pieces today.  I saw a few days ago that he made this in the UWS.  It was a stone’s throw from my new apartment.  As soon as I found out the location, I made my way there.  I hopped up the stairs of the subway, eagerly anticipating what I’d see.

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At the corner, I saw a guy with headphones.  I tugged at his sleeve to tell him the news.  Excitement tumbled out of my mouth like a really long hast tag:

HeyDoYouKnowBanksy?OneOfHisPiecesIsRightThereAcrossTheStreet!!!!!!

He was happy to hear about it, and see it from afar.  But he didn’t stop to see it.

 

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I stood in front of it for a while.  People stopped to look.  It started with children, asking their mothers about it.  They seemed the most observant.  Then, the adults would get engaged, explaining the concept.  A small crowd started to form.  I started talking to a man and woman, taking photos for them in front of the piece.  I went on and on about Banksy’s artist residency here in New York.  When the man came back for his camera phone, he remarked:

“The painting is so simple.  It doesn’t take a lot of skill.  I think I could do it.”

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I couldn’t help but think:

“If you can barely take the time to look, how can you take the time to create?”

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September 27th, 2013 by Monica Murgia

Old GRTC Bus Terminal

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I mentioned in my last post that I started a new job. Part of my training took me to Richmond.  After work, I decided to roam around the city for a bit by myself.  My only plan was to check out a few vintage stores, figuring that fashion would somehow lead me to an adventure.  I hopped into the hotel shuttle bus and gave them the address to a local vintage retailer in Carytown.

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I had no real desire to buy anything, but just wanted to walk around – absorb some of the local scenery during my short time in the city.  Chatting with the driver, I looked out the window.  We passed an old bus terminal that was absolutely irresistible to me.   It was covered with hundreds of the most evocative, brightly hued art I’d seen.  Set against the warm, sunny late afternoon the setting seemed dreamlike.

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Cooing while trying to snap a few photos from the van, the driver sensed my enthusiasm.  He didn’t really know what the site was, other than it was an old bus terminal.  I asked him if we could take a quick detour and investigate the site.

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Everywhere I looked was beautiful!  The space has previously belonged to the Greater Richmond Transit Company (GRTC).  Built in 1902, the structure housed  trollies and buses that were not in use or needed repair.  The site was abandoned back in 2009.  Residents were unhappy with the crumbling buildings.  They pushed for a creative use of the space, hoping to install stores and restaurants to boost the local economy.

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The city’s response was to create a Street Art Festival, inviting artists from around the world to create large scale murals.  Since the time frame was limited, it became a hotbed of creativity.  Artists were working side-by-side, helping and inspiring one another.

Hamilton Glass, a Richmon-based artist, likened the festival is like a jam session for artists:

We feed off each other,” he said about five hours into his mural. “It’s great painting next to someone who’s being creative.

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The mural above was created with the help of Art on Wheels.  This Richmond-based non-profit helped in transforming the abandoned bus terminal into a work or art.  Founded in early 2007, Art on Wheels’ mission is to bring comprehensive arts programming to communities with limited access to the arts.  Their intent to make arts education accessible to all ages and abilities

 

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I could have spent all day here!  There was no evidence of any businesses within the compound.  But there was a young couple walking around taking photos.  They took a photo of me, which shows you the scale of the work.  It’s really massive and overwhelming!

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Like a kid in a candy store, I ran down the empty streets eagerly taking in as much art as I could.  Every mural was so interesting and unique.  Some were even 3-dimentional.  One of my favorites was a blue wall filled with metal birds.

 

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After closer inspection, the birds are decorated with names and poems.  If you’re in Richmond, I highly recommend stopping by to see it for yourself: 2501 W. Cary St.

To see the rest of my photos from the Old GRTC Bus Terminal, follow me on Instagram!

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September 24th, 2013 by Monica Murgia

A Farewell to Teaching

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New beginnings are exciting.  They are also turbulent.  Beginnings require other things to come to an end.  I’ve thought a lot about this the past few weeks, because I’ve started a new job.  This job is completely unrelated to fashion and teaching.  With it comes excitement, meeting new people, learning new things, and also a pesky feeling of loss and sadness.

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It’s ironic to feel this way.  I never particularly aspired to be a teacher.  It was something that seemingly happened to me – nothing that I had planned on doing.  Yes, I am qualified to teach college.  But the identity of being a professor was something that was quite difficult for me to take on.

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I’ve written about this struggle before for Worn Through:

I don’t have any formal training in pedagogy or social interaction.  I have a master’s degree to curate costume and textile exhibitions, so I’m always observing how people learn and interact with exhibition and classroom spaces . . .These experiences affected me as an educator because I started teaching at 25.  I was, for all intents and purposes, fresh out of the classroom.  It was a VERY difficult transition to make, personally and professionally.  I didn’t identify with being a teacher/professor, and was often times younger than my students.

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Aside from the sheer terror of speaking in front of groups in an intelligent manner, teaching was difficult because of my age.  It required me to be more of a mentor than a friend, which was something I didn’t consider myself to be!  “Mentor” seems like a title for someone much older and more seasoned than myself.  I hardly have my own life figured out, so it seemed ridiculous to see myself in this way.

 

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For the first few years, every class meeting filled me with anxiety.  I never felt prepared enough.  I never felt knowledgeable enough.  I never felt like I embodied what a good professor was.  I would obsess about creating the perfect lectures and assignments, lose sleep over selecting readings, and miss meals to do grading.
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I had a routine of getting through the tough times.  I’d pour myself a cup of coffee, repeating a mantra: “One day, I will not have to be a teacher“.  It helped to keep my sanity.  I had set up an impossible ideal of what I should be, and felt trapped in a role I could never fill.

 

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At a certain point, I threw away all my notions of what I should be.  Instead, I tried to make my classes fun.  I wanted my students to have permission to be everything I wasn’t allowing myself to be: fun, spontaneous, creative, inspired, interesting.

 

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The results were unanimous.   Having fun is the best way to learn.
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I also learned a lot myself.  To be a good teacher, you must be a good listener and observer.  I always thought the perfect teacher had a secret file labeled: “the perfect thing to say at any given moment”.  That advice just magically rolled off their tongues and inspired students to work to their full potential.  Clearly, I had no file like this.  So I just watched.  When I saw something special, I learned to speak up.  I had no magic wand, no hidden power.  I’d just say: “That’s really good!  Make MORE!!!!!!!!!!

 

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And then I would encourage them to interact with other students.  I started to understand that I didn’t need to be everything to everyone.  If another faculty member or student was better at illustrating a croquis or draping a garment, I should let them take over.

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Slowly, I started to re-define what a good teacher is.  Now, I see this as someone that listen and observes the talent in another person and encourages them to do more with it.  A good teacher exposes students to new ideas, new media, and new ways of creating.  A good teacher will give you work as a way to find new methods of self-expression.
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A good teacher will give you a structure for success.  This is learning the discipline of the course.  But a good teacher will also show you how to be independent.  The aim of teaching is for students to no longer need a teacher.  The goal is for the students to realize they have all the skills and resources to be successful on their own.

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In this way, my students were my teachers.  They challenged the way I thought about and perceived the world.  They showed me new ways to be creative.   They helped me to realized that I better at teaching that I let myself believe.

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Just as soon as I learned this lesson, life has taken me on another journey.  So for now, this is my farewell to leading a classroom.  It was amazing, frustrating, enlightening, and exhausting.  I’m so grateful for every single person that I’ve met along the way.

 

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September 15th, 2013 by Monica Murgia

Currently Reading: The Non-Objective World

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All my favorite books have pictures.  While I enjoy reading and writing immensely, sometimes words are insufficient.  How do you describe a perfect sunset?  Or that moment you realize that you’re in love with someone?  Of course there are wonderful adjectives that can help explain the experience to another person, but somehow that magic moment is inexpressible with words.  I find myself in this situation often.   It’s frustrating to be unable to share a feeling or experience with someone because you can’t describe it.   This frustration is what leads me to draw or paint.
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When I enjoy the work of other artists, I’m curious as to what they are trying to express.   Looking at art always makes me feel something.  It stirs up my emotions and thoughts.  So I’m eager to see if what I feel is what the artist was hoping to express.

 

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Cosmos by Kazimir Malevich, 1917.  Image courtesy of Wikipaintings.

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about Russian abstract painter and costume designer Kazimir Malevich.  His work really fascinated me, initially because his experience as a costume designer influenced his later path as a painter.  So, I started to look at his artwork.

 

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Mystical Suprematism (Black Cross on Red Oval) by Kazimir Malevich, c. 1920-7.  Image courtesy of Malevich Paintings.

Malevich is most known for starting the art movement Suprematism. He conceived the idea of Suprematism around 1913, which focuses on basic geometric forms painted in a limited range of colors.  Malevich believed that the true power of art was it’s ability to evoke emotion in the viewer.  By using simple geometric forms, there was no way for political or social meanings to be imparted on the work of art. I loved the ideas behind his work.   He saw painting as a way to make people feel something that could not be manipulated or placed out of context.

 

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Mystical Religious Rotation of Shapes by Kazimir Malevich.  Image courtesy of Wikipaintings.

Lucky for me, Malevich wrote a manifesto on what his artwork was trying to make people feel.  He traveled to Berlin in the 1920s to exhibit his work and network with the faculty at Bauhaus. (New to my site?  You should read my previous posts on the Bauhaus.) His manifesto, The Non-Obective World, was published as book 11 in the series Die Gegenstandslose Welt.  (A friend told me this title translates to something like “a spirit without products” or “the spirit of the abstract”)

 

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Formula of Suprematism by Kazimir Malevich.  Image courtesy of Wikipaintings.

NYPL had a copy of The Non-Objective World, and I’m reading it now.  The introduction was really powerful.  It explains that, according to Malevich, art is eternally powerful because it originates from a feeling.  Artists are inspired to create something because of an almost mystical experience.  The urge to make something and share it with others is what makes an art object beautiful.

He insisted that art and the feelings which generate it are more basic and meaningful than religous beliefs and political conceptions.  Religions and the state, in the past, employed art as a means to further their aim.  The usefulness of works of technology is of short-lived but art indures forever.  If humanity is to achieve a real and absolute order this must be founded on eternal values, that is, on art.

 

 

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September 14th, 2013 by Monica Murgia

Nais

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Sustainability and lingerie.  It seems like an unlikely combination, doesn’t it?  The “Green” movement tends to focus on recycling materials, which is not appropriate for intimate apparel, or using “organic” fibers.  I’m always skeptical of companies that boast about using organic cotton.  With cotton, often times these organic crops are grown in distant regions.  The amount of fuel used to transport the materials to be spun, dyed, and then produced into cloth tends to negate the entire idea of being environmentally friendly.  So I was really interested to learn about Nais, a line of urban-crafted, sustainable lingerie.
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Created by Anaïs Bouchard, Nais exclusively sources its materials from American companies and manufactures everything in the state of New York. Based in Brooklyn, the brand renders a fresh spirit that takes its inspiration from street art and retro culture.  One of my favorite looks is above: the aqua garter belt with beige thigh-high stockings!  Honestly, though, everything is super sexy.
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If you’re trying to shop more responsibly, it’s important to consider the distribution chain of a brand.  Since Anaïs manufactures everything domestically, she’s reducing her company’s carbon footprint.  It also means she is helping to employ other Americas by supporting other local vendors and manufacturers.  I think the Green movement just got a little sexier.
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Anaïs also presented her line at Tesla Style Night.  Here’s a picture of her models!  (I’ll be doing a recap of the show later next week!)

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To purchase items for Nais, please visit Be-Nais.  All images courtesy of Anaïs Bouchard

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August 29th, 2013 by Monica Murgia

Love is Telepathic

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A few years ago, someone I knew insisted on taking me to a psychic.  Her name was Miriam Berry.  She was an old soothsayer that my grandmother used to visit, so I figured it could be amusing.  I’m not really superstitious, so I wasn’t expecting much.  Miriam was absolutely charming, her yellow-gray hair piled messily into a bun.  She flashed a smile as bright as jeweled fingers, and asked me some questions while flipping through a tarot deck.  She told me to think of a question.  This, of course, made my mind go completely blank.  What do I really want to know?  I settled on something really generic and vague, like “Will everything turn out alright?”  Much of this meeting was not memorable.  But one thing she said will never leave my mind.  She paused in the middle of a thought.  She looked at me, smiled, and said “love will prevail”.  We looked at each other and giggled.
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I think messages like this keep us going.  And if you look or listen carefully, these messages are all around.  Recently, I was introduced to Mark Samsonovich.  He is an artist that worked in solitude for many years and decided 2013 would be the year to share his work with the world.  Every week, he produces large scale installations in public spaces throughout Manhattan.  Street art is something I adore, so I was nearly beside myself with excitement to meet someone that works on such a massive scale.  (New to my site?  You should check out my previous posts on street art.)

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Before our meeting, I carefully looked at Mark’s website and Instagram feed.  I’m always curious to look at other people’s art.  It reveals so much about the way they think and experience the world.  I could tell that Mark and I had similar ideals, but perhaps he is better at expressing them more poignantly than me.

 

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As you can see, the main subject is love.  The art is really brilliant because it is inviting and interactive, welcoming people to have fun.  But there is something else that is really special about about Mark’s work.  It’s the way in which he defines what love is.  Have you ever tried to summarize what love means to you?  It certainly can be tricky to do.
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I think that Mark’s work exemplifies how love is a spectrum.  It is an underlying emotion that makes us care for others.  It may show up in various ways – like romance, lust, agape, or friendship.  However it appears, love allows us to connect others to share the experience of life.  Love can transform a mundane day into an adventure.

 

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I’m so pleased that Mark’s will be sharing new artwork at Tesla Style Night.  Buy your tickets to come check it out.  And also keep your eye out for his work throughout New York City.  It’s everywhere.

 

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August 28th, 2013 by Monica Murgia

Thaddaeus Timothy

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It’s not every day that I write about childrenswear. But working on Tesla Style Night has introduced me to a whole new group of eco-friendly designers I never dreamed existed. Thaddaeus Timothy is a Brooklyn-based designer that up-cycles garments into the most adorable bow ties for boys.
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The designs are so appealing. Each bow tie is packed with fun prints, bold colors, and just the right touch of sophistication for the budding gentleman. The model’s featured on Thaddaeus’s website are so adorable you just want to reach out and pinch their cheeks. And honestly, can’t you just picture these tykes on a future cover of GQ?

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As I learned more about Thaddaeus’s design philosophy, I liked his work even more. His main source of inspiration was from his childhood. Fashion choices didn’t seem to exist for him or the little boys he went to school with. He explained:

I grew up in a neighborhood where fashion didn’t exist. It wasn’t uncommon to wear the same thing to school three days in a row. During winter most kids came to school without boots, we wore plastic bags over our shoes instead. My mom packed two lunches for me so I could give one away, if she didn’t kids would steal my food. Growing up we shopped at thrift stores because we had to. Fashion became a way for me to express myself and be different.

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In addition to the line being sourced from sustainable materials, Thaddaeus also donates a percentage of each sale back to his community. BOWS FOR BOARDS raises money to give underprivileged New York students free skateboards. Long term, Thaddaeus hopes to create an indoor skate park in Brooklyn that would be open all year. He sees it as a way to give hope, motivation, and community to an underserved area. 

 

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Thaddaeus is so humble about his vision. He simply says: “If you are fortunate enough to dress up, you are capable of helping others.” Isn’t that beautiful?
Show your support by visiting Thaddaeus’s website and by attending Tesla Style Night.
All images courtesy of Thaddaeus Timothy.

 

 

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August 24th, 2013 by Monica Murgia

Tantric Art

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Always read the fine print. It’s an easy lesson to forget. Considering how accelerated the pace of life has become, it can be a challenge to stop for a few moments of observation. It sometimes seems that the moments of our lives are judged on the quantity rather than the quality of our output. Over the past few months, I’ve felt so busy that time seemed immeasurable. One moment flowed seamlessly into the next, only demarcated with the jingling cries of:

“Hurry up! What took so long? This deadline is coming up! Did you get that email?”

Despite the telescoping demands of the outside world, it’s so important to schedule time for yourself. I have discovered that if I consistently schedule time for my own interests and rest, the quality of my work for others is much better. Yesterday’s post on Kazimir Malevich was an attempt to have some “me time”. While I was gathering images, I came across this work of art:

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Tantric painting of Kali’s “28 dazzling tongues.” Image courtesy of the New York Times.

My instincts told me it wasn’t by Malevich, although it was certainly modern-looking. I could have dismissed the painting, and went along my merry way. But curiosity got the best of me. I clicked the link. It turns out that the work of art is a modern interpretation of Tantric art.

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Shiva Linga, 2002. Image courtesy of Feature Inc.
Tantra definitely has a very steamy reputation in the West. The very name generally conjures up sexually explicit images in most people’s minds. Yet reducing Tantra down to a practice of mastering the Kama Sutra is an incomplete picture.
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The Purity of Consciousness, 2007. Image courtesy of The New York Times.
Tantra is a Hindu form of meditation and ritual that started in the Fifth Century. So what does that mean, exactly? Like all sects of Hinduism, Tantraic philosophy explains that life is nothing more than a manifestation of divine energy. Everyone – everything – is created from the same energy. Life, with it’s ups and downs, can distract us from this universal truth. Much in the same way that external demands can prevent us from scheduling time to relax, the experience of life can make us forget our divine nature. Tantra uses meditation and ritual as a way of allowing practitioners to remember this truth.
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Untitled Tantric painting, described as a “meditation on the possible and necessary balance of things”. Image courtesy of The New York Times.

Much like Buddhist art, Tantric paintings are used as a meditation tool. (New to my blog? You should check out my previous post, Looking at Buddhist Art.) The simple shapes and colors in Tantric art are visualization tools for calming the mind during meditation.

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The Three Gunas: Matter, Energy, Essence, 1990. Image courtesy of Feature, Inc.

The images in this post are from Tantra Song: Tantric Paintings from Rajasthan, a book by Franck André Jamme. Jamme came across similar paintings, and completed a 20 year search for communities that still produce Tantric art. After an epic, and somewhat unfruitful expedition, Jamme finally found a community in Rajasthan that produces these images in this tradition.

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Dance of Energy, 2001. Image courtesy of Feature, Inc.
The art is created on found paper. The artists are all anonymous and discard the art after the meditation or ritual is performed. The artist will create a piece based on what they are seeking. Each shape has a certain meaning. Triangles refer to Shakti, or divine energy. Circles and ovals refer to wholeness and totality.
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Night and day – spiral of energy at center of each, 1998. Image courtesy of Feature, Inc.

I found it very ironic that the message behind this art is to promote reflection and meditation. Isn’t it curious how the universe works?

For more information, please visit:

 

 

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August 23rd, 2013 by Monica Murgia

Kazimir Malevich

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A few weeks ago, I wrote about the Triadic Ballet Costumes made at the German design school Bauhaus.  These costumes transformed the dancers into geometric forms that leapt around the stage.  As I was looking at all of the images of the Triadic Ballet, I came across another brilliant costume designer: Kazimir Malevich.
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Fat man costume design for Victory Over the Sun by Kazimir Malvich, 1913.  Image courtesy of Wikipaintings.
 Kazimir Malevich (1879 – 1935) was a Russian-born abstract painter.  He is most known for starting the art movement Suprematism. Malevich conceived the idea of Suprematism around 1913, which focuses on basic geometric forms painted in a limited range of colors.  Malevich believed that the true power of art was it’s ability to evoke emotion in the viewer.  By using simple geometric forms, there was no way for political or social meanings to be imparted on the work of art.
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Death to Wallpaper by Kazimir Malevich.  Image courtesy of Art Might.
He explained:
“Under Suprematism, I understand the primacy of pure feeling in creative art. To the Suprematist, the visual phenomena of the objective world are, in themselves, meaningless; the significant thing is feeling, as such, quite apart from the environment in which it is called forth.”

 

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Suprematist Composition by Kazimir Malevich.  Image courtesy of Museum Reproductions.
I stumbled across a really interesting, cogently written blog called Freelancer Frank.  Essentially, he explained how Malevich was very interested in Bauhaus and their progressive fusion of art, design, and industrialism.  Malevich traveled to Germany to meet with several of the Bauhaus instructors.  This meeting was fruitful, and resulted in the publication of Malevich’s Suprematist manifesto, The Non-Objective World.
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 Victory Over the Sun.  Costumes by Kazimir Malevich, 1913. Photo by Tom Caravaglia.  Image courtesy of BAM Blog.

It was fun to learn about Malevich, particularly because his venture into costume design preceded most of his major paintings.  His first costuming job was for the Russian Futurist opera, Victory Over the Sun.  Malevich was also responsible for the set design.  As you can see, the costumes are very geometric, making the performers look like chess pieces.

 

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Attentive worker costume design for Victory Over the Sun by Kasimir Malevich, 1913.  Image courtesy of Wikipaintings.

The costumes are Malevich’s first Suprematist work.  You can see how each of the garments are comprised of distinct geometric shapes.  There is the use of black and white, with pops of brightly hued colors.

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Coward costume design for Victory Over the Sun by Kazimir Malevich, 1913.  Image courtesy of Wikipaintings.

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Sportsman costume for Victory Over the Sun by Kazimir Malevich, 1913.  Image courtesy of Wikipaintings

After looking at the costume sketches, it was easy to see the correlation between Malevich’s later paintings.  The above costumes had angular panels of blue, white, yellow, and black fabric.  Three years later, Malevich made the Suprematist oil painting below – which has the same color pallet.

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Supremus No. 58 by Kazimir Malevich, 1916.  Image courtesy of Wikipaintings.

 There are so many fantastic parallels between the costumes for Victory Over the Sun and Malevich’s later paintings.  Take a look:

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The Enemy costume for Victory Over the Sun by Kazimir Malevich, 1913.  Image courtesy of Wikipaintings.

 

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The New Man costume for Victory Over the Sun by Kazimir Malevich, 1913.  Image courtesy of Wikipaintings.

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Suprematist Composition by Kazimir Malevich, c. 1916.  Image courtesy of Kootatian

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Reciter costume for Victory Over the Sun by Kazimir Malevich, 1913.  Image courtesy of Wikipaintings.

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Supremist No. 18 by Kasimir Malevich, 1915.  Image courtesy of All Paintings.
singer-1913-1.jpg!BlogSinger costume for Victory Over the Sun by Kazimir Malevich, 1913.  Image courtesy of Wikipaintings.
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Athlete of the Future costume for Victory Over the Sun by Kazimir Malevich, 1913.  Image courtesy of Wikipaintings.
 
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Untitled by Kazimir Malevich, 1915.  Image courtesy of iBiblio

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Someone Wicked costume for Victory Over the Sun by Kazimir Malevich, 1913. Image courtesy of Wikipaintings.
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 Untitled by Kazimir Malevich, 1916.  Image courtesy of The City Review.
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Many & One costume for Victory Over the Sun by Kazimir Malevich, 1913.  Image courtesy of Wikipaintings.
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Book Cover design by Kazimir Malevich for Nikolai Punin, 1920.  Image courtesy of MoMA.  
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The Undertaker by Kazimir Malevich, 1913.  Image courtesy of Wikipaintings.
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Suprematist Variation & Proportions of Color by Kazimir Malevich.  Image courtesy of Wahoo Art.
Also noteworthy is that many of Malevich started to use shapes to replace the faces of the figures.  This was a common theme in many Surrealist paintings, a movement that started in the 1920s.  (New to my blog?  You should read my previous posts on Surrealist art & fashion.)
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The Athlete of the Future by Kazimir Malevich, 1913.  Image courtesy of Wikipaintings.
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Red Cross on a Black Circle by Kazimir Malevich, c. 1921.  Image courtesy of It Is Snowing.
 
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Soldier costume for Victory Over the Sun by Kazimir Malevich, 1913.  Image courtesy of Wikipaintings.
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Turkish Soldier costumes for Victory Over the Sun by Kazimir Malevich, 1913.  Image courtesy of Wikipaintings.
Throughout his career, Malevich continued to design costumes and textiles, something I’m curious to investigate more.
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Textile design by Kazimir Malevich, 1919.  Image courtesy of Studio & a Garden.
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 Suprematic Dress by Kazimir Malevich, 1923.  Image courtesy of Wikipaintings.
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Suprematic Dress by Kazimir Malevich, 1923.  Image courtesy of Wikipaintings.
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August 18th, 2013 by Monica Murgia

(RE) by Lanni Lantto

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My previous post, Tesla Style Night, mentioned that this year New York Fashion Week will be exposed to emerging fashion designers that promote sustainability.  There will be over 10 eco-friendly designers will be coming together to showcase fashion and accessories made from reclaimed, up-cycled, or vegan materials.  I’ve been getting to know the various designers participating in the event, and they are all worthy of their own posts.  Today, I’d like to highlight (RE) by Lanni Lantto.

 

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Designer Lanni Lantto leading an up-cycling workshop. Image courtesy of Lanni Lantto

Lanni is a Los Angeles-based that focuses on redesigning existing garments.  Her label, (RE), embodies her design philosophy: reuse, reduce, redesign, rethink, reinvent, recycle.  Lanni sources all of her materials locally.  Everything she uses for the design process is second-hand.  In addition to reclaimed fabrics, Lanni uses reclaimed sewing materials and mannequins.

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Lanni sourcing materials at the Melrose Trading Post for Tesla Style Night.  Image courtesy of Lanni Lantto.

In addition to her label (RE), Lanni teaches workshops on up-cycling and consults with clients on how to redesign their existing wardrobes.  She explains:

I’ve taken an unconventional path to a non-traditional career.  I am not a fashion designer going eco; I am an environmental & social activist gone fashion designer- and rather than being a set back I believe it actually sets me apart.  I thought I had to be behind a desk to be an activist, making phone calls, networking, writing my thesis, teaching at university- what I discovered is that a (re)volution of the heart can come from anywhere; including through the art of fashion.

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Stripes Evening Gown by Lanni Lantto.  Image courtesy of Lanni Lantto

As one of the participating designers, Lanni will be showcasing a series of evening gowns based on the designs of Tesla’s electric cars.  Interested in seeing these unique, sustainable creations?  Buy your tickets now!

Tesla Style Night Tickets

Tesla Style Night is Monday, September 9th from 6:30-9:30 at the Tesla Show Room in Chelsea.

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August 9th, 2013 by Monica Murgia

Onondaga Textiles via The Design Center

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I’ve recently been assigned the responsibility of developing a Pinterest account for a new business.  It took me some time to create my own Pinterest account, and I use it sparingly.  Why?  Well, I start to wander down the rabbit hole of assembling interesting themes and pictures onto a pin board.    It’s been a challenge to discipline myself to limit my time on this amazingly visual platform.  I’ve worked out a nice routine, where I come up with an concept I’d like to research.  I then log on, and pin for 10 minute increments.  During one of my pinning sessions, I decided to look into the Onondaga Silk Mills.
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Much to my delight, I found these incredible high-res images of swatch cards.  The Design Center at Philadelphia University houses a large study collection of historic textiles and garments.  It seems their Tumblr account digitizes and explores their gorgeous archives.
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I’ve written about the Onondaga Silk Mills before.  During graduate school, I became familiar with the textile mill.  It interested me so much because one of it’s primary factories was located in my hometown of Easton, Pennsylvania.
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The mill was originally run by Herman Simon (1850-1913), a German emigre, who brought silk to Easton.   In 1874, along with his brother Robert, Herman Simon built a silk mill in Union Hill, NJ – establishing the R. & H. Simon Company.  The mill was three stories high, and contained 165 handlooms, as well as looms Robert invented himself to produce grosgrain silk.   R. & H. Simon Company became so successful that a 9 acre plant is built in Easton in 1883.
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In 1933, the R&H Simon Company mill in Easton was purchased by the Onondaga Silk Company.  The Onondaga Silk Company was extremely active in creating fashionable textiles.  They were a leading couture level textile manufacturer, with locations in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.
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The Onondaga Silk Company is  best known for their American Artists prints in the late 1940s.  The silk company collaborated with six American artists  to style unique fabrics.  This collaboration received international press, and was a pivotal exposing many Postwar artists to mass media.  The American Artists series was on display at the Midtown Galleries on 57th Street in Manhattan, and established the Postwar ideals of mixing fashion and art.
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As synthetic fibers were developed after WWII, Onondaga expanded it’s production to include more than silk.  It created interesting fabrics in rayon, polyester, and other manufactured fibers.  Silk was still it’s primary interest.
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Many of the swatches from The Design Center appear to be from the mid 1960s to the 1970s.  You can tell by the color pallets and patterns used in the designs.
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The Onondaga Silk Company continued to make very high-end fabrics, whether or not they were silk or synthetic fibers.  The mill catered to fashionable couturiers and designers.  Ultimately, the mill had difficulty competing with the quality and price of competing mills.  The company operated throughout the 1970s with difficulty.  The mill was closed in 1981.
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I imagine that The Design Center acquired these swatch cards after the mill closed.  There is little information on the cards, other than that they come from the Onondaga Mill in Easton.
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I searched for more information, and was really excited to find this card!  This dates from 1965, and was made for Castillo for an evening gown.  What a special find. :)
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Take a look at the rest of these beautiful swatches:
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