HIGH POINT — What do you get when you cross a roomful of naked, useless mannequins with more than a dozen creative artists?
You get “Mannequin Musings,” a new Theatre Art Galleries exhibit in which 15 North Carolina artists, most of them from the Triad, have given new life to a collection of otherwise lifeless mannequins.
The exhibit — TAG’s first new exhibit since the coronavirus pandemic hit last March — opened last week and will remain on display through May.
“This exhibit really began as a storage issue,” explains Jeff Horney, executive director of Theatre Art Galleries. “We had 15 mannequins left over from our Paul Tazewell exhibit last year, and we didn’t have anywhere to store them. We were trying to decide what to do with them, and we started wondering if we could use them in some kind of creative fashion.”
It would be difficult for the mannequins to top their previous appearance at TAG, the aforementioned Paul Tazewell exhibit. Tazewell is an acclaimed Broadway costume designer, and TAG used the mannequins to display some of Tazewell’s eye-catching costumes, including pieces he designed for the blockbuster musical “Hamilton.”
Nonetheless, TAG put out a call to artists, inviting them to reimagine the mannequins and turn them into pieces of art.
“They had about a month to work on them, and the only direction we gave them was that their creations could reflect on 2020, look ahead to 2021, or they could just do whatever they wanted to do,” Horney says. “We said they could deface them, change them, modify them any way they wanted, and it’s amazing what came back.”
What came back was 15 colorfully compelling pieces of art — some whimsical, others reflective and thought-provoking, but all of them unique.
Consider, for example, a reflective piece by High Point artist Annie Chrismon titled “No Rain, No Flowers.” Chrismon used cotton batting to convert the top half of her mannequin into a cloud, and beads drip from the cloud like raindrops. The bottom half of the mannequin is adorned with artificial flowers and greenery, representative of new life spawned by the rain.
Chrismon’s artist statement explains the symbolism of her piece: “2020 was like a rainstorm that seemed never-ending, but the rain was only preparing us for new growth in 2021.”
Gallery hours are Tuesday through Friday from noon until 5 p.m., and by appointment. Admission is free.
Although there was no opening reception for the “Mannequin Musings” exhibit, there will be a virtual exhibit on the TAG website, giving the public an opportunity to vote for a People’s Choice Award.
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