Some time ago an associate suggested that I set aside my brushes and move from painting to sculpture. The opportunity came in a class experience that focused on teaching painters to think in three-dimensional terms and it forced me to move from painting's comfortable territory into the uncertain realm of sculpture. My approach to sculpture was casual and informal as I decided to experiment with common materials such as safety pins, buttons, aluminum can tabs, bottle caps, neckties, broken jewelry and other discarded objects. As I collected and handled these ordinary objects my appreciation for their properties and uniqueness grew.
I remained uncertain where all this was leading until a fellow artist picked up a half-finished piece I had been working on and threw it over her shoulders. As this scrap of "art" conformed to her figure, I saw the wide-ranging possibilities of a new art form. With that recognition, my involvement in sculpture expanded from the technical aspect of making art into working with ideas: a series of rigid sculptured garments with each acting as a metaphor for an attitude or custom of our culture. Since that time I have focused on garments as portraiture, landscape, satire and commentary.
Beginning with a welding torch and quarter-inch steel rod, I weld an armature that can function as an internal support or play a definitive role in the detailing of the piece. The materials selected help to define the meaning and draw the viewer into the work. In return the viewer completes the process by imaginatively wearing the garment and adding a personal interpretation.
The most often asked questions I hear are, "Where do you get your ideas?" and "Why do you want to create clothing that no one can wear?" My answer may be too simple: my ideas are intuitive and I'm not aware of how I think things through.
I like to strike out on new turf with a certain confidence and a sense of mystery to the many possibilities in front of me. A carefree process attracts a certain number of wrong turns and dead ends. Working hard with nothing to show for it is part of the process. Studio time without tangible results can pay off later and contribute to the entire process of art making. I have never been sure of where I was heading but I have eventually understood where I have been.
In presenting work for an Internet audience I have collaborated with another creative mind that is not intuitive but thoughtful and result oriented--the web designer. This partnership has allowed me to step back and view this series of garments as an evolving body of work...one that is still growing and changing. This Internet presentation is the final step in the process--letting go.
~ Marilyn Annin