Cincinnati Art Museum is currently showcasing the visionary Dutch fashion designer, Iris Van Herpen, and her avant-garde garments that embody the symbiotic relationship between art and science. Similar to how Iris Van Herpen is “Transforming Fashion” by leveraging diversity and creativity, the Cincinnati Art Museum is transforming art experiences into personal and tangible expressions of art for all ages.
Let’s start with the exceptional exhibition that is “Iris Van Herpen: Transforming Fashion.” You do not have to be a fashion designer nor aficionado to appreciate this particular show. If you are even remotely creative and open-minded, then you should take some time to visit the Cincinnati Art Museum and experience the exquisite and exciting work from this designer first-hand. She effortlessly blends high-tech processes with traditional hand stitching, creating imaginative sculptural garments from diverse materials including metal umbrella ribs, industrial yarns, leather, metal and acrylic. She draws inspiration from a wide range of experiences and collaboration with architects, engineers, musicians and artists, creating new materials and methods that breathe kinetic, artistic life into her pieces. Her Magnetic Motion Collection was inspired by a visit to CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research). Hybrid Holism Collection was inspired by the artist Philip Beesley’s experimental textile-based installation. Her Crystallization Collection was focused on imitating water surrounding a body brought to life as the first 3-D printed garment shown in a fashion runway.
If that was not enough to convince you, her work has been worn by celebrities including Lady Gaga, Beyoncé, Tilda Swinton and Bjork, and has graced the runways of Paris, London and Amsterdam. This particular exhibition includes 45 different outfits and nine pairs of shoes from 15 different collections. The CAM has done a brilliant job showcasing these pieces, including experiential learning through sight and touch sensory examples of Van Herpen’s innovative materials. Whether you are fashion-forward, artistic, scientific, or just plain curious, this exhibition will show you the transformative power of Van Herpen’s creativity and collaboration. Perhaps it is best captured in her own words: “I find beauty in the continual shaping of chaos, which clearly embodies the primordial power of nature’s performance.”
While I consider myself well-versed in the Cincinnati arts scene, I apparently missed the extraordinary experiential art programming that the Cincinnati Art Museum offers to individuals of all ages. More specifically, they have so many fantastic events associated with the “Iris Van Herpen: Transforming Fashion” exhibition. I recently attended the Artist Workshop, which takes place on the third Saturday of each month and is led by a local artist. I invited my mom (who is not the least bit interested in high fashion, but is always willing to spend time with me―thanks Mom!) and we had a wonderful afternoon learning about something we would otherwise not have known. After a brief introduction by a delightfully garbed local fashion artist, we had the opportunity to tour the exhibition with an expert and then spent the remainder of the time learning how to develop our own art prints using two different techniques. It was so much fun to see people of all ages (kids 6 and up are welcome―those in attendance did great) learn new skills, work together and be creative in their own way. In the same vein as Iris Van Herpen, the diversity of minds and chaos of the process produced beautiful output and an experience that I’ll be repeating soon with my kids…who will love it for completely different reasons. My youngest will adore the fashion aspects, while my oldest daughter will be fascinated by the science behind the creativity.
If you missed the first few events, don’t despair, CAM has many more lined up. First up is Fashion First Saturday on 11/4 from 12-4 p.m., part of their Family First Saturday series offering a fun-filled day for the whole family including scavenger hunts, visits from local artists and special performances. For those of you interested but leery of little people who get super excited (as a vertically challenged energetic person myself, please don’t fear me), there is also Art After Dark: Transforming Fashion on 11/22 from 5-9 p.m., which offers the adult version including live music and specialty cocktails. For those looking for quieter reflection time with this tremendous exhibition, it is running through January 7, 2018. Take the time to open your mind, be inspired and check out what the Cincinnati Art Museum has to offer―it will surprise and delight you.
Christi Geary is the proud mom of two girls 10 and under, best friend and wife of her husband Brian, and an Associate Director at the Procter & Gamble Company focused on innovation insights and analytics. She enjoys and participates in art of all kinds, feeds an insatiable curiosity for learning, pursues different forms of exercise when she can find the time to balance out her foodie predilection, and delights in spending time with family and friends.