If you happen to detect a sweet yet spicy aroma in the air on Friday evening, don’t be alarmed. It’s probably just all the magnificent estrogen radiating from Fabric Row.
Joining forces with the week-long, citywide fashion and style extravaganza better known as the Philadelphia Collection, Paradigm Gallery will open its new all-female exhibition, Ladylike, with a night of art, design and a whole lotta girl power. And considering that Fabric Row was once the city’s ultimate fashion hub, it’s only befitting that several neighboring retailers and businesses will be joining in on the festivities.
With featured artwork such as textiles, crafts, illustrations and graphic design, Ladylike is essentially a smorgasbord of Philly’s female artistry. “This exhibition really explores and celebrates what women bring to fashion, design and art,” says fiber artist and Paradigm co-founder Sara McCorriston. “It’s extremely important that we reflect on how times have changed and celebrate how many incredible female artists there are.”
Friday’s reception will specifically highlight the work of textile, fiber and jewelry artists, including Alexandra Emeric’s colorful wool neck ornamentations and McCorriston’s silk and wax sculpture, “I Once Was a Homeless Lampshade.”
“The process involves boiling silk in vinegar and dyes with objects tied into it,” the 24-year-old McCorriston explains. “Then I had lots of fun molding the fabric to the upside-down found lampshade and filling it with various waxes until it felt done.”
There will also be a live project by local artist Stefanie Fuoco that entails a canvas dress and several balloons filled with heavy latex paint and a presentation on women’s fashion of the 20th century by Beth Dincuff Charleston, an assistant professor at N.Y.C.’s famed Parsons The New School for Design.
On Sept. 28, as part of Arts on South’s Fourth Friday openings, the gallery will then host a second reception, shifting the focus to the visual artists, most of whom will be in attendance discussing their individual works during a Q&A session.
As for the greater meaning of the exhibition as a whole, featured artist and co-curator Stephanie Struse stresses what it’s not: “a show of exclusionary connotations.”
“Unexpectedly, this exhibition made me realize how feminine artwork can be just that by being created by a female, and it’s OK that you can tell,” McCorriston adds. “Terms like ‘feminine’ and ‘ladylike’ have so many different meanings, and in this exhibition, the terms are visually defined very well.”
Collectively, the works don’t really scream “I am woman; hear me roar” nearly as much as you might expect. Rather, many simply play with the notion of what “lady” means in this day and age. For example, Crystal Shephard’s “She’s Fabulous” piece, which features memorable quotes from the 2004 film Mean Girls in pink embroidery. (“She’s a life ruiner—she ruins people’s lives!”) “It’s just the complete opposite of being ladylike,” Shephard jokes.
Perhaps most interesting is how, despite their different individual aesthetics, many of the artists actually seem to have found inspiration in similar things. Namely, heartbreak, hair and the biggest of all—dessert. That’s right; cupcakes, ice cream, gelato. These ladies really like their sweets.
“I like the idea of upholding this tradition of showcasing female works, specifically with this group of ladies,” Struse says. “I feel their works embody the tone and styles of their generation: free, intelligent and fun.”
Opening Reception: Fri., Sept. 14, 5:30pm. Fourth Friday Reception: Fri., Sept. 28, 5:30pm. Through Oct. 13. Paradigm Gallery + Studio, 803 S. Fourth St. 267.266.0073. paradigm-gallery.com Ladylike events
All are free and open to the public.
What a Lady Likes: Peruse the latest collections of several local female clothing and accessory designers, as well as the new works of local female artists.
5:30pm. Urban Princess Boutique, 750 S. Fourth St. 609.220.6717. urbanprincessboutique.com
Ladies Night: In addition to a small showcase of local artwork and live music by Philly-based singer-songwriter Gretchen Elise, the chic, urban/European hair salon will have surprise live hair art going throughout the night. Customers will also receive 15 percent off any hair products.