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Fashion as public art: Strengthening communities through site-specific fashion collections

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Fashion design and public art can be perceived to inhabit almost opposite realms, yet both practices engage audiences in the social domain. Through the completion of three site-specific projects, I have found that combining both disciplines makes for a uniquely effective way to empower and strengthen communities. To wit, my most recent sited fashion project brought together the African American and Caucasian communities of Cincinnati, Ohio, transforming the city into a space for cultural discourse. The success of these in situ fashion projects underlines the advantages of such work over other forms of public art, as audiences normally intimidated by contemporary art become willing participants in fashion-based undertakings. This article introduces the concept of site-specific collections, explains the peculiarities of fashion-based public-art practice, and defines their objectives, features and theoretical framework.
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Keywords: community-based; conceptual; localized; participatory; site-specific; socially responsible

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Ryerson University

Publication date: August 1, 2014

More about this publication?
  • Fashion, Style & Popular Culture is a peer-reviewed journal specifically dedicated to the area of fashion scholarship and its interfacings with popular culture. It was established to provide an interdisciplinary environment for fashion academics and practitioners to publish innovative scholarship in all aspects of fashion and popular culture relating to design, textiles, production, promotion, consumption and appearance-related products and services. Articles related to history, manufacturing, aesthetics, sourcing, marketing, branding, merchandising, retailing, technology, psychological/sociological aspects of dress, style, body image, and cultural identities, as well as purchasing, shopping, and the ways and means consumers construct identity as associated to Fashion, Style & Popular Culture are welcomed. The journal offers a broad range of written and visual scholarship and includes works done through various methods of research. We welcome conceptual, theoretical and translational applied research in the areas of fashion, style and popular culture. This journal hopes to stimulate new discussions in the fashion disciplines and to push the envelope of scholarship by welcoming new and established scholars to submit their works.
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