Silent Auction for The Center for Contemporary Craft

I am thrilled to announce my position as Chair of the The Art as Accessory Silent Auction for The Center for Contemporary Craft Luncheon on April 18th, 2012 at River Oaks Country Club.

Art as Accessory 

Silent Auction for 

The Center for Contemporary Craft

Last summer while traveling in the Hamptons, I was inspired by a few pieces of art as fashion or fashion as art. In fact I was so moved, it became a mission to gather a group of artists in Houston who would translate handbags into art however I didn’t know how to pull all the pieces together.  
Fast forward a few months, the amazing media mogul Alton LaDay asked my husband, Rob, and me to participate as Honorary Committee members for The Martini Madness Fundraiser and Party at The Center for Contemporary Craft.  A few martinis later with a bit of liquid courage, I pitched the idea of fashion as art to the amazingly forward thinking Julie Farr, Executive Director of The Center, and thankfully she loved it!
Now my once lofty dream has become a reality in the form of beautiful and unique wearable art, sculpture and jewelry created from repurposed couture handbags.
The Vintage Contessa, our international website offering vintage luxury designer handbags and accessories for less, donated a group of vintage couture handbags that were showing signs of wear and tear and were less desirable for resale. A group of emerging and mid-career craft artist from around the country each gathered at The Center to select a preowned preloved couture bag to redesign. 
Below you will see the original treasures and resulting transformations by these current and former HCCC Artists-in-Residence below.
To bid or view the auction online please visit http://www.crafthouston.org/default.asp?ID=195
Jessica Dupuis
9" x 13 ½" x 5"
Ceramic shards, wooden purse

Photo by Jenny Antill
 Jessica Dupuis is a ceramist who views the physical forms of sculpture as a journal, or architectural spaces that are open for the viewer to explore. She describes her work as "temporary; it exists as long as it can withstand the space it occupies. The forms in my current work are evocative, fragile and vulnerable, but equally solid and strong as if they were eggshells standing on their own without a protective support."

Jessica uses the combination of clay and discarded materials, such as newspaper, cardboard boxes, and apple cores, to construct objects that are light and fragile, but packed with strength and power. The forms reveal a history that evolves from experimentation, memory, and time. She is an artist who relishes in the idea that, through the art-making process, she can be an explorer, an inventor, and a poet.

Jessica holds a MFA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a BFA from Alfred University. She is a recipient of the ISC's 2010 Outstanding Student Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Award.
Jessica selected the octagonal wooden handbag for her sculptural piece. The deep lid and body gave her plenty of room to create, and the combination of the sturdy vintage box and the seemingly fragile shards within capture both the eye and the imagination. The piece is a great example of the architectural elements of her sculptures, which are not just about surfaces but about creating a space for the viewer to explore.

Jessica selected the octagonal wooden box with scene.

Nathan Dube
2 ½" x 1 ¾"
Sterling silver, alligator, leather, brass

Photo by Jenny Antill
Nathan Dube, a current artist-in-residence, is a metalsmith whose work explores his interest in childhood and play by exploring the relationship among humor, aggression, masculinity, and how contemporary adult-male identity is constructed in American culture.
Nathan makes eccentric toys, which comment on the absurd lengths men will sometimes go in order to recapture their youth and define their identity. His current work uses characters from movies and popular culture, along with meticulously crafted spit-wad shooters, to highlight the differences between the way masculinity is and has been represented to past and current generations.
Originally from Austin, Texas, Nathan grew up mainly in Klein, outside of Houston. He holds a MFA from Kent State University and a BFA from the University of Texas at Austin. His work has been exhibited in both national and international venues, including a solo show at the National Ornamental Metal Museum in Memphis, Tennessee.
For his brooch, Nathan chose the alligator bag because of the contrast in texture of the soft leather versus the rough alligator exterior, as well as the contrast in color. The reptile skin inspired him to call attention to the alligator in a graphic pattern. By using silver to create the mirrored silhouettes, Nathan was able to keep a recognizable element in an abstracted design.

Nathan selected the alligator vintage bag, 1950s – 1960s, and an antique mesh bag, 1950s.

Elaine Bradford 
A Tribe Called Cat
11" x 9" x 10 ½" 
Couture handbag, glass beaded handbag, mixed media

Photo by Jenny Antill
Elaine Bradford is a local mixed-media artist who is best known for her surreal sculptures that combine crochet and taxidermy animals. Bradford says, "These ‘trophy' animals are such odd objects to begin with, putting them in custom sweaters makes them that much more peculiar. . . The materiality and familiarity of the crochet allows the viewer to be drawn in and have empathy for the trophies. This absurd domesticity resurrects these inanimate objects and brings them into a new life."

A Houston native, Elaine holds a MFA from the California Institute of the Arts and a BFA from the University of Texas at Austin. Her work has been exhibited in numerous group shows throughout the United States and several recent solo shows in Houston, Austin, and St. Louis. She is a founding member of Box 13 ArtSpace and is a member of the Artist Board of DiverseWorks and the Programming Committee of Lawndale Art Center, all in Houston. Bradford was the recipient of a 2008 Individual Artist Fellowship Grant from the Houston Arts Alliance. 
For her silent auction piece, Elaine selected the green-and-red couture bag largely because it reminded her of Christmas, and its size was sure to guarantee enough material for any concept. The smaller bag also spoke to her and inspired the "tribal hut" and vignette inside the green environment. Recently, Elaine has been working on ideas of ritual and spirituality and used those elements to suggest a story for this imaginative and quirky little world.

Elaine selected the "Green Epi Leather, Louie Vuitton (Noe)," and a hand-held clear and blue bag with a hand-beaded double loop. 

Giovanna Imperia
C'est Ma Griffe
20" necklace
Leather, plastic, aluminum chain

Photo by Jenny Antill
Giovanna Imperia's work focuses on the exploration of the tactile and organic nature of fiber and related materials. She pushes the boundaries of the expected definition of body adornment and 3-D objects through the concept of "transformation"—the idea of actively engaging the user with shaping and transforming the art piece—thus, making the user part of the creative process. 
Giovanna's work has been shown in many juried and invitational national and international exhibits. Selected work has also been reproduced in textile and jewelry books and can be found in private and museum collections.
Giovanna chose this bag for her dynamic necklace because it is a staple in any brand-conscious/obsessed woman's wardrobe and represents an icon of conspicuous consumption. The most important element of this is the visibility of the brand itself; however, by using only the labels, Giovanna changed the identification. The item is no longer recognizable as a couture bag, but as one of her original pieces.

Giovanna selected the "Louie Vuitton Monogram (Speedy)" and a lucite bag from the 1940s.

Masumi Kataoka
6" x 3.5" each
Snake, crocodile, steel, brass, magnet

Photo by Jenny Antill
Masumi Kataoka is a metal and jewelry artist who is interested in emphasizing the intimate nature of jewelry as an object. In her previous work, she used human hair as a medium because she was interested in how the works blended into the body. She frequently uses rawhide in her recent work. She likes how materials can carry or suggest certain meanings or qualities: "I think a lot about how jewelry relates to the body. I have been focusing on using materials that may suggest the body, or relate to the body to make the piece more intimate to the wearer." 
Masumi earned a MFA in Metal Jewelry at the University of North Texas, Denton, and a BFA in Metal/Jewelry at Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff.
For this project, Masumi Kataoka was inspired by the origin of her bags' animal materials, a snake and an alligator. The merry, fresco-inspired imagery on the snakeskin purse inspired her to create a fairytale-like scenario--a simple kiss between reptilian friends.

Masumi chose a brown alligator handbag, 1950s – 1960s, and a reptile bag with fresco scene.

Edward McCartney
7" wide, 18" necklace
Vintage, French-cut steel beads; brass; sterling silver; silk satin; hematite

Photo by Jenny Antill
Edward McCartney is a mixed-media and jewelry artist living and creating in Houston, Texas. For the past 10 years, he has honed his craft as an art jeweler, and much of his work involves pushing the boundaries of body adornment and traditional ornament. Edward states, "When the narrative is requisite, I find expression in both small and large sculptural forms, often with the preciousness, detail, or vocabulary of the jeweler's eye. I adore the transformation of materials and wish to provoke new ways of seeing, within myself and the viewer who participates in my work." Edward is active within a community of artists, collectors, and galleries locally and nationally.
It was the beading on the purse that first caught Edward's eye for this project. Keeping the same free-flowing movement the bag had, he created a stunning draped necklace. This piece follows nicely in his tradition of creating beautiful artworks from unexpected objects. 

Edward chose a French-cut steel bag, made in France in the early 1900s.

Pam Sager
Satchel Purse
12" x 12" x 9"
Industrial felt, faux leather

Photo by Jenny Antill
Pam Sager grew up watching her grandmothers knit and quilt and completed her first quilt when she was 19. She was also influenced by her engineering father and grew up with a fascination for the artistic use of building and manufacturing materials. This fascination, combined with her love of textiles, led to a career as an interior designer and, later, as a fiber artist working primarily in industrial felt.

"I enjoy the challenge of working in three dimensions and constructing workable pieces within the parameters offered by the systemic qualities of felt. . . The inherent properties of industrial felt, such as density and strength, make it a suitable medium for pieces where form is a priority. I also enjoy using materials in unconventional ways."

Pam holds a BS,Magna Cum Laude, in Interior Design, from Northern Arizona University. Her work was recently exhibited in the Houston Area Fiber Artists' 2009 Juried Exhibition at Archway Gallery, where she won the "Juror's Choice Award." She is a member of the Houston Association of Fiber Artists and Studio Art Quilt Associates, among other professional organizations.
Pam approached this project as if she were designing her own line of couture bags. Combining her love of industrial felt and the process of weaving it into an existing item was a way to explore new avenues in design and materials. The addition of the felt accents the texture of the original fabric, while highlighting the color and feel of the wool.

Pam chose the "Louis Vuitton Monogram Drawstring (Noe)."

Leslie Shershow
2 ½" x 5"
Walnut, leather, brass

Photo by Jenny Antill

Leslie Shershow
2 ½" x 5 ½," 18" long
Mequite, leather, brass

Photo by Jenny Antill
Current artist-in-residence, Leslie Shershow, graduated from the Massachusetts College of Art with a BFA in metals. Prior to joining HCCC, she taught metalsmithing to children and adults in various art centers and colleges in the Boston area and managed the metalshop at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts for several years.

Leslie's work is an exploration of man's complex relationship with objects, specifically the ownership and attainment of things. Using silver, copper, and other non-ferrous metals, she fabricates the structure of her pieces, often employing a hydraulic press to create three-dimensional forms. She frequently uses acrylic to create a backing or substrate for the metal parts, and this backing often acts as a window into the structure of the piece. By mimicking the quilted patterns from designer handbags and luxury-car upholstery, she creates a covetable object—one that signifies status or decadence.
It was the lush green color that drew Leslie to this couture bag, and she decided to make it the focus of her accessories. Thinking back to vintage cars and furniture, she decided to accent her brooch and necklace with hints of upholstery, evoking luxury and style from bygone eras. For the necklace, she incorporated the bag's handles as the cord in a sly reference to the source material. 

Leslie chose the "Louis Vuitton (Vernis) Green."

John Van Domelen
6" x 6" x 5 ½" 
Ebonized wood, plastic

Photo by Jenny Antill

John Van Domelen
Men's Valet Box
10" x 5 ½" x 2"
Vintage hardwood cohíba cigar box, cocobolo, padded velvet, leather

Photo by Jenny Antill
John Van Domelen was introduced to the lathe by his grandfather many years ago. He uses the lathe as his primary tool, but his work is sometimes done off the lathe. John carves, burns, textures and dyes some pieces in order to further bring forth the beauty in the wood. He is a member of Gulf Coast Woodturners Association, American Association of Woodturners and the Wood Turning Center and has won numerous awards through the GCWA contests. 
As a woodworker, John was immediately drawn to the octagonal box. Preserving the integrity of the form, John removed the delicate bird pattern to highlight the beauty of the wood beneath. He then ebonized the wood to create contrast with the original cream-colored handle. The effect is demure yet dramatic.
For the Men's Valet Box, John was attracted to the accent details in the couture tote bag. He was inspired to take this feminine bag and transform it to a men's valet box. Using a vintage cigar box as the base, John used the hardware from the bag to create a functional, modern container that would look right at home on a bureau or side table.

John chose a bird cage octagonal box from the 1950s, with robin-egg blue and pink, and the "Fendi Monogram (Tote)."

Melissa Walter
Brooch with Earrings
1 ½" x 1 ½," 1 ½" dangle
Thread, steel, brass 

Photo by Jenny Antill

Melissa Walter
1" x 4"
Thread, steel, brass

Photo by Jenny Antill
Current artist-in-residence Melissa Walter combines metalsmithing and papermaking to create works to adorn the body. Melissa is originally from Concord, North Carolina and holds a BFA in Metal Design from East Carolina University and a MFA in Jewelry and Metals from
the University of Georgia.

Melissa's work has been exhibited recently in Jewelry + Objects, in Midland, Michigan; Ohio Designer Craftsman: The Best of 2011, 20_3_20, an invitational, traveling ring exhibition; and Handcrafted: A Juried Exhibition of Ceramics. Fibers. Glass. Metal. Wood., in Rocky Mount, North Carolina.
The materials of Melissa's chosen bags were the main attraction. In particular, she was interested to see how the metal-mesh bag and the beaded-crochet bag could work together. As she took them apart, her experience creating paper-based brooches inspired her to see how she could continue to create fiber pieces that move with the body. These pieces inaugurated a new line of work by Melissa--one that incorporates subtle movement and a textural use of color.

Melissa chose the "Whiting and Davis Gold Clutch with Oval Rhinestone" and a 1880s – 1890s Victorian crocheted bag.

Kristi Rae Wilson
Alligator Skin Remnant Necklace
5" x 10," 16" necklace
Alligator skin, sterling silver, copper, thread

Photo by Jenny Antill
Narrative is key to accessing Kristi Rae Wilson's multimedia wearable and installation-based works. Her goal as a storyteller and arranger of objects is to allow the viewer to have a transformative experience through imagination by interacting with an object she has altered. Physical interaction with her altered materials allows the viewer to understand and absorb her intent. Her current work also deals with the maintenance of domestic spaces and family histories and how those actions are engendered.

Wilson received a MFA in Jewelry/Metals from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, where she was the recipient of the Creative and Performing Arts Fellowship and the Brodie Material Grant. Her work has been included in international and national publications and exhibited throughout the United States. The Society of North American Goldsmiths (SNAG) awarded her the Educational Endowment Scholarship to participate in the Jewelry Opere Workshop (Netherlands), where she studied with contemporary jeweler, Ruudt Peters.
Kristi selected the doctor-style alligator bag because the material seemed challenging to work with. She also felt the aesthetic would offer masculinity to a necklace, which is typically a feminine accessory. Borrowing from the ambiguity found in men's ties, ruffled collars and laced blouses, Kristi created a striking piece of wearable art that can be worn by both genders.

Kristi Rae chose a doctor-style alligator bag with a 1960s buckle and a hand-held crocheted bag.


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