Who, What, Wear? Collaborative exhibition features works by MSU students
Author: Sasha Steinberg
Works representing the collaborative efforts of current and former Mississippi State art, fashion design and merchandising, and theatre students are on display through Oct. 22 at the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art in Laurel.
Featuring costume recreations and original designs, the "Who, What, Wear?" exhibition also showcases works of art and research by students from MSU’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences; College of Architecture, Art and Design; and College of Arts and Sciences, as well as students from the University of Southern Mississippi.
Lori Neuenfeldt, MSU art instructor and gallery director, said last year, she was approached by Kristen Miller-Zohn, curator at the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art. Miller-Zohn proposed the idea for a collaborative exhibition featuring the recreation of garments seen in works of art at the museum.
"For this exhibit, we sought to involve professionals and students in different fields including art, fashion design and theatre," Neuenfeldt said. "This idea led to the creation of a special topics course at Mississippi State titled 'Understanding Fashion in Art' that combines my interests in the overlapping of art and clothing history."
Neuenfeldt taught the "Understanding Fashion in Art" course this past spring, but the work featured in the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art exhibition is that of students who were enrolled in her 2016 spring semester course.
As part of the 2016 spring semester "Understanding Fashion in Art" course, 30 undergraduate students investigated different ways clothing and accessories are used to communicate ideas of power, gender, wealth and wisdom through works of art from ancient to modern periods.
Throughout the semester, the students conducted research and developed sketches and dossiers on pieces from the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art's permanent collection.
"Students interpreted the way clothing functions in specific pieces from the museum’s permanent collection," Neuenfeldt said. "This was no easy task, but they showed me that they were eager for the opportunity to access the collection, study the objects and provide information to the museum."
MSU art students Alex Cayson, Jennifer McFadden, Haylee Upton, Dion Coleman and Katye Drew passed their research on to fashion design and merchandising majors Neshelle Gilbert, Gabrielle Martinez and Alicia Lemons, who were enrolled in MSU Professor Phyllis Bell Miller's fall 2016 intermediate construction course. Miller's students used the research and images as inspiration for new fashion designs, Neuenfeldt said.
Additionally, former MSU communication/theatre major Mackenzie Dunn and Kelly James-Penot, costume shop supervisor at the University of Southern Mississippi, produced historical recreations that are displayed next to paintings from the Lauren Rogers museum’s permanent collection. Dunn created a 19th-century folk costume from the Swiss Canton of Bern, while James-Penot created an 18th-century style "robe á la française."
Neuenfeldt said this yearlong project is "an exciting example of how artwork can inspire collaborations across research fields and educational institutions."
"The Mississippi State University Department of Art is happy to partner with the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art and the University of Southern Mississippi for this special project," she said. "An investigation of fashion and costume is a fascinating way to explore works of art and culture, and it is exciting to see how the work of our students is being used to actively engage visitors of the museum."