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Forms & Alterations at the 808 Gallery

by Kate Thrane

Photography courtesy of Carina Lee

Fresh, fun and unexpected, the new art exhibit at the 808 Gallery on 855 Commonwealth Avenue is fashion reinterpreted with a twist of wild imagination.

Forms & Alterations, an eclectic collection where artwork meets apparel, is a hybrid of fine art and experimental fashion. It opened on February 2 with a bang, and featured a fashion show by Qwear, a fashion platform established in 2011 by Sonny Oram, a transgender rights activist.

During the fashion show, a diverse group of models came out wearing outfits specifically designed for their bodies; the exhibit’s goal is to be sensitive to all body types and create an accepting space. The models and audience interacted through tarot card readings and astrology. The crowd was diverse—there were children, older couples and college students.

The airy gallery space was filled with a variety of artistic works from textiles to photographs. Some of the most exciting and unexpected pieces were those of artist K8 Hardy. Hardy displayed several mannequins, which she dolled up with textiles from thrift shops. In one of her pieces, featured at the Whitney Museum Biennial in 2012, she took a silver metallic fiberglass mannequin and adorned the figure in a vast array of brassieres of all shapes, patterns and sizes, emphasizing the overall body-positive theme of the gallery.

The colorful exhibition also included Personal Panel Uniforms by artist Andrea Zittel, a collection of mannequins in long apron-like dresses, aluminum wrinkled shirts nailed to the wall by artist A.K. Burns and Carmen, Sarah, and Cathy by artist Susan Metrican, three pairs of jeans hung up in three different shades of blue.

“It is a well done exhibit that with just a passing glance would appear to be an ode to fashion, but upon close inspection it really turns traditional fashion on its head, and you really get that the artists are reinterpreting fashion,” said Isa Elwaw (CAS ’20).

There was a jeweler selling her designs, and she chose to dedicate part of the proceeds she made that night to Y2Y. Established in 2012, Y2Y is a homeless shelter run by young adults that helps their homeless contemporaries.

Forms & Alterations is a vibrant, exciting collection of art pieces and apparel expressed in terms of gender and sexuality contributed by women and members of the LGBTQ community.

Curator Lynne Cooney, artistic director of the Boston University Art Galleries, assembled the 13 artists, who originally were not apparel designers, most could not even sew, but who approach style and fashion with an emphasis on gender identity.

Also included in the exhibition are pieces by New York artist Stacy A. Scibelli, who contributed pieces from her 2013 collection when she undertook an exercise to create and make a new outfit each day for a month.

Her vision was to create apparel that is functional as well as sculptural. In this collection, one of her displays was a bra and panties set pinned to the wall. They are simple undergarments, but somehow are arresting and captivating in their display.

“It is such a refreshing break from the cold winter day,” said Anna Kalik (COM ’20). “All the bright, vibrant colors and the wide variety of art forms make it a really interesting way to spend some time.”

Other artists showcased at the 808 Gallery include Sarah Zapata, Beverly Semmes, Lisa Anne Auerbach and Susan Cianciolo.

The gallery exhibition will run through March 25 and is open Tuesday through Sunday 12 to 5 p.m. with extended hours from 12 to 8 p.m. on Thursdays.

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