Wearable Art

Wearable art, also called artwear or art to wear refers to art pieces designed to be worn. These handcrafted pieces of jewelry or clothing are often made by the designer to make some kind of artistic statement. Although wearable art is related to mainstream fashion it stands independently. Unlike its counterpart, it demands to be seen as a serious form of art. It also differs from mainstream fashion in that it does not conform to any aesthetic criteria.

Wearable art has seen a lot of growth since it began. The wearable art revolution first surfaced in the 1930s. However, it was only in the counterculture years of the 60s that it reached the USA thereafter seeing even more popularity. Wearable art was meant to showcase rebellion against the conformity of previous generations. These handmade pieces served as a tool of self expression and individuality which had come to be valued in those years. It also served to rebel against mass production that had become rampant. Artists saw it as a way to bring art from the canvas into daily lives therefore making it more accessible to everyone. While wearable art flourished in the 70s, it was in the early 2000s that it reached its peak.

Fibrous materials are often used to create these pieces though others such as metal, plastic and leather can be used. They are made through a number of techniques such as sculpting, weaving, knitting, gluing, riveting, dyeing among others. These pieces are then exhibited or sold to art consumers depending on the designer’s preference.

Although most pieces of wearable art are meant to be worn by the consumer, the same can’t be said for all of them. Sometimes artists have taken to using materials that are out of the norm to create their pieces. This is known as extreme wearable art. These clothing or jewelry are solely for the purpose of making a statement rather than wearing. The pieces are often highly impractical for daily wear and best for viewing in museums. An example of this is trashion which is a branch of wearable art that makes clothes from trash such as work by Marina DeBris. Another such example are the pieces created by Andrea Vander Kooij called Garments for Forced Intimacy which are meant to be worn by two people at once.

Although wearable art is still a respected form of art, it is definitely not what it used to be. It is now viewed as a sort of high end fashion and while it was previously made accessible to everyone, the prices these handmade pieces are now sold at make it hard for just anyone to buy. However, this does not diminish its role as an art form for people who love to express themselves through their clothing.

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