Artist Statement By Debbie Bone-Harris
Through the ages embroidery has been recognized as one of the fine arts of fabric embellishments. Just like the warp and weft of the threads that comprise fabrics and textiles, the great fashion designers interweave our thoughts and influence our work. My interest in wearable art, particularly embroidery, was piqued after studying Elsa Schiaparelli, Italian fashion designer and entrepreneur. My designs are a culmination of exploring surface embellishment techniques in the exciting world of embroidery and beadwork.
Elsa Schiaparelli was one of the founding designers of wearable art, enhancing and embellishing garments beyond our wildest dreams. Schiaparelli was the most influential designer in Paris in the 1930s, known for her intoxicating, impeccably exquisite designs. I have been inspired by the beginnings of embroidery, the great fashion designers of the past, and now the plethora of opportunities that exist to expand the horizon of embroidery, particularly as it is showcased on wearable art.
Wearable art is so special to so many today, as well as those artists from our past. The relationship with oneself and dress is personified through wearable art, with its connection of dress as a cultural symbol. Whether from the influences of Schiaparelli, the hippie days of the 1960s and 1970s, or the current textile artists, wearable art is a display of personal expression of ideas and self.
Textiles continue to connect art, people, and life as evidenced through the myriad of wearable art shows, exhibits and publications today. Fiber and textiles are very sensual and the symbolism expressed in pattern and texture connects the viewer to personal experiences and cultures. Wearable art, as personal adornment, becomes an aesthetic statement. Wearable art embraces fashion, technology, and the individual desire to recombine aesthetic surfaces, especially embroidery, with substances that represent emotional attachment. Although many wearable art pieces are intended to be exhibited and worn, they are more to be treasured and protected.
Contemporary wearable artists continue to increase the potential of textiles as art by including new materials and technologies, yet still staying grounded in traditional design principles. It is important that we recognize and appreciate the diverse ways that artists put their unique look to their garments. The unstoppable march toward creating more wearable art continues not because of mandates or rules or set policies. Rather its force comes from the passion of textile artists to grab hold of the opportunity for themselves, their passions, and their drive for creative expression through dress.
I’d like to thank all those textile and fiber artists who have mentored and taught me machine embroidery, ribbon work, beadwork and the ability to think outside the box. I give special thanks to the WSU Clothing and Textile Advisors, and members of Seams Wild Contemporary Quilt Guild for joining me in the journey of textile explorations. It is reassuring to know that others have undergone the crisis of confidence that accompanies the creative process.