PDT Staff Writer
Bold stripes and geometric shapes in black and white took over the front of the Boneyfiddle Arts Center (BAC) Friday, as board member and artist Deborah Doll celebrated at the reception of her first BAC exhibit. Her gallery was kicked off by a reception dedicated to the month of art and fashion by Portsmouth natives.
Doll’s exhibit, “A Juxtaposition of Creative Endeavor,” is Phase 2 of the month-long feature on fashion. Phase 1 being an exhibit dedicated to the late artist and New York Institute of Fashion graduate, Cara Kirby. Both exhibits are now on display at the center.
“People like it,” Doll said at her opening reception. “Guests have asked if the clothing can be worn and they liked the way the outfits were interchangeable. They’re interested and asking questions, which is always a good thing for artists.”
Doll got started in fashion in high school, where she made much of her wardrobe by hand and even made her prom date’s suit. Doll was drawn into fashion by her desire to be different in making her own clothing and hosting her own artistic expression. She took classes in fashion, but eventually settled down for a family life keeping fashion as an artistic hobby. She has been involved with BAC since they opened in 2010 and has been serious about pushing art’s relevance in our world.
“Anything we do aesthetically, whether it be cutting their hair or wearing a certain outfit, it changes how you feel about yourself. Even if it is for a day, it changes how you feel; it changes your posture and you walk differently,” Doll said. “I like to dress up, it makes me feel special. I also like wearing something no one else has.”
Most of the work Doll submitted into her gallery has a black and white theme to it, which she said was inspired by Coco Chanel. Doll said that she made all of the pieces at the same time, and it took her roughly three weeks to put the five outfits together, two of which she and her daughter wore to opening night to show that her outfits were also about efficiency, as well as artistic.
“I just want to illustrate that we are promoting this art center,” Doll said. “I don’t want people to think that art is separate from them. It is very much into everything they do. Everything we have comes from artistic design. Chairs need designed before they are made. Clothing is designed. It’s not all about being practical, it is also about aesthetics and making sure things look good. Art is all around us, but we tend to separate it. We think something isn’t art unless it can be hung on a wall and that just isn’t true.”
Don Blevins, BAC artist and volunteer, helped Doll organize much of her exhibit, especially with the backdrop she wanted for her outfits. The black and white panels that hang behind the exhibit feature and abstract scene that starts with the silhouette of a 1920s fashionista. The first panel is followed by four more, which are painted very abstractly with city architecture shapes, which continue onto the floor. An Idea Doll wanted to pursue from the start.
The exhibit paintings reveal abstracted figures that model after a 1920s and 1930s fashion person to show how she believes fashion goes through cycles and doesn’t change that much.
“Doll’s mission is to show the symbiotic relationship between art and fashion. Art depends on fashion and fashion depends on art. They come together and we are showing them side by side to show how they influence each other,” Blevins said. “I think it is really great. I think the people who have showed up that saw the first phase are very enthusiastic about the second one. It ties in almost automatically, because Cara Kirby was a fantastic artist, illustrator, fashion designer, and overall excellent at creative arts. I think Debbie and Cara blend together really well. I know Debbie is inspired a lot by the 1920s and 1930s design, especially Coco Chanel, but she is also trying to create a more modern look, which goes in-hand with Cara.”
“A Juxtaposition of Creative Endeavor” can be seen at Boneyfiddle Arts Center at 546 Second Street from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. More information can be found at boneyfiddleartscenter.org or by calling 740-876-9668.