Projects + Gallery's Amongst Friends.
It's the last chance to explore projects+gallery's current exhibition of photography and fashion, titled Amongst Friends. The exhibit at the gallery in the Central West End closes this Saturday.
Amongst Friends. is a series of black and white photographs by Saint Louis native and current New York City-based artist Dario Calmese and selected fashion objects from the private collection of Lana Turner, a noted Harlem preservationist and doyenne of style whose extensive inventory of vintage fashion can be understood as an archive of twentieth-century society and a reflection of the role of fashion in the history of African-American culture.
Calmese was introduced to Ms. Turner years ago at Abyssinian Baptist Church, while the artist was in search of hats to photograph for a fashion project he was developing as a graduate student. Steeped in traditions passed down since slavery, churches are one of the cornerstones of the African-American community, becoming a space not only for worship, but for people to connect with one another, and to find and express themselves within a chosen family. It is an activated stage within which the clothing you wear becomes performative, and Ms. Turner is no ingénue. She wears her elegant, at times extravagant, wardrobe like armor, expressing her inner strength with accessories that recall generations past and the resilience that continues today.
Styled by Calmese, exclusively using Ms. Turner’s existing wardrobe, Amongst Friends. seeks to dig deeper into the idea of the black church as an activator not only for imagination, but a crucible for the construction of self. It engages the many layers of one woman’s self-identity, while transcending itself in order to examine the theatrical performance of fashion and its place within African-American culture.