You’ve probably heard of Da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa”, Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” and Picasso’s “Guernica”. Get ready now for your new favorite piece of art: the corset.
You read correctly. The centuries-old form-fitting undergarment that was used to create a defined hourglass shape is more than just a shaping tool. The corset has a rich and artistic history, which few people have appreciated. Until now.
The Southern Utah Museum of Art (SUMA), on the campus of Southern Utah University, is currently presenting a historical timeline and contemporary perspectives of corsetry with the exhibition, “The Corset as Art: Past & Present.” The exhibit runs until September 25, and you won’t want to miss the opportunity to see it in person. Here’s why it may pique your interest.
Showcase an unrecognized art form
In a world of fast fashion and utilitarian clothing, you probably don’t think of your clothes as art to wear. This is what makes this exhibition unique.
Curated by Laura Crow, costume historian and professor emeritus at the University of Connecticut, the exhibit features more than 30 corsets by national and international artists. You’ll see a historical timeline of corsets ranging from the earliest period pieces to contemporary works of art to wear as you immerse yourself in the fascinating history, evolution, and art of corsetry.
“I chose this topic in particular to highlight a very underrated art form. The concept of sartorial art – not fashion – has been evolving since the 1960s,” said guest curator Crow. “In 1987, Dame Suzie Moncrieff founded the World of Wearable Art (WOW) competition, which takes place each September over a three-week period and attracts participants from over 40 countries.
One of the laureates, Nika Danielska from Poland, is included in the exhibition at SUMA. “
And if you are unfamiliar with the name Nika Danielska, you might recognize another famous person whose corset is on display.
“Some of these objects exhibit extraordinary sewing skills, but many are three-dimensional objects created from artistic minds using different methodologies to create three-dimensional art. One of the works is, in fact, a costume. created for actress Scarlett Johansson’s appearance on Saturday Night Live and made entirely of mylar plastic, ”Crow said.
See the play that accompanies the exhibition
If you really want to deepen your appreciation of corsets, you could enjoy the game that completes the exhibit. “The Corset as Art: Past & Present” is being held in conjunction with the Utah Shakespeare Festival’s production of “Intimate clothing.”
The play is the heart-wrenching but hopeful tale of Esther, an African-American woman in the early 1900s. Esther creates intricate lingerie pieces for a wealthy clientele while seeking love and acceptance.
Written by two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage and directed by actress, theater educator and director Tasia A. Jones, “Intimate Apparel” explores social divisions of race, religion, equality, class and of sexism.
“I was thrilled when Frank Mack, executive producer of the Utah Shakespeare Festival, approached me about the play and the partnership,” said Jessica Kinsey, executive director of SUMA. “As the SUU Beverley Center for the Arts art museum, this is a great example of how we can bring the performing and visual arts together.”
While the corset show is free, you can purchase tickets for “Intimate Apparel” on the Utah Shakespeare Festival website.
Visit the exhibition for free
Since this might be your only chance to see both a corsetry exhibition and a play, you’ll want to enjoy it while it lasts.
SUMA is open Monday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and “The Corset as Art: Past and Present” runs until September 25 with two other exhibitions “Texture, Thread, Clay: Selected Works from the Permanent Collection” and “Utah Shakespeare Festival: 60th Anniversary Exhibition “Entrance to the museum is free and open to the public thanks in part to Cedar City RAP Tax, Visit Cedar City, Utah Division of Arts and Museums, Zions Bank, Southern Utah University and other sponsors.
For more information on activities, dates and times, please see SUMA website regularly. Any modification of schedules and programs will be communicated immediately by e-mail and via SUMA’s social networks.