Looking Back: SKIRT with League of Women Designers

The end of the year is a perfect time to cover things I never quite wrapped up. I’ve been a part of League of Women Designers (LWD Chicago) for almost three years now and it has been a very grounding element of my career and practice. The atmosphere Kari Merkl has created (she started a chapter here in 2011 after moving from Portland) is open, supportive, engaging and dynamic. I gain something personal and professional each time we meet.

Early in 2013 LWD Chicago agreed we should plan an inaugural exhibition introducing the group’s work to the city through a centrally themed show, which was also in response to the Portland group’s Ruffle show. I spearheaded the show planning, and contributed a piece myself. Coincidentally during this time I was greatly influenced by the documentary Makers, and by being a new mother balancing family and career. I was interested in understanding the sentiments of these women, to see how they were affected–adversely or not, privately or overtly–by being a women in their profession.

I chose the word SKIRT, as the title of the show–a catalyst for creative thought–and to which each artist or designer would react to while creating their piece. Skirt, with its multiple meanings, allowed the artists/ designers to address women’s issues or not. Are we ‘skirting’ around the fact that many professions are still male-dominated? Do we want to talk about it? Are we ‘skirting’ the topic of feminism? How does this manifest physically? How does one material ‘skirt’ around another? These were the some of the questions I wanted to address.

The exhibition ran from June 15 – July 27th, 2013 and was held at Manifold gallery and workshop. It featured 13 members of the group, from various disciplines: graphic design, fashion design, furniture design and fine art. What resulted was a wide ranging approach in various mediums, expressing both sides of a coin: masculine and feminine, delicate and strong, understated and bold. An essay by Chicago based lifestyle writer Lauren Viera accompanied the exhibition. Participating artists included:

Heather Anderson
Araidia Blackburn
Bridgette Buckley
Stephanie Cobb
Jennifer Farrell
Elizabeth Fiersten
Eve Fineman
Jamie Hayes
Kari Merkl
Donna Piacenza
Linda Pulik
Catherine McCulloch
Heather Mullins

Jamie Hayes, Skant
Exhibition View
(L to R) Eve Fineman, A-line Stool; Stephanie Cobb, Double Slit; Kari Merkl, Holder
(L to R) Araidia Blackburn, Organza Half Slip; Catherine McCulloch, Table Skirt; Heather Mullins, Voids of our Blue Bin System
Elizabeth Fiersten, Fringe Pendant Lights

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