Tag Archives: powersuits

a month in the midwest

I’ve temporarily traded NYC for a month on the road – visiting friends and doing some mini-residencies to refine and develop a real wearable clothing line, the next step for the PowerSuits project.

driving

Last week I took part in an art residency at Have Company in Grand Rapids and had a great time meeting all the amazing people of that town and getting to know the life of a store owner. I finished up a bunch of old projects that had been haunting me, hosted a romper-making workshop, and had an amazing photo-shoot with Carson Davis Brown — looking forward to the PowerSuit pics that come from that afternoon of fabric forts and metal mountains.

havecompanyromperromperss

carsonphotoshoot

Now I’m in Yipsilanti, inhabiting my friend’s Juliet and Narooz’s lives by housesitting, hanging out with their cat Gingerale, and eating all the pickles in their fridge. I am so enjoying having the space to myself; it feels like playing ‘house’.

julietnarooz

My goal for this residency is to create 4 rough drafts of pieces that I love and want to produce on a bigger scale as part of the PowerSuits line. To do that I’m creating at least 3 variations of each piece, 12 pieces total. The categories are: Jumpsuit, Blazer, Basic Dress, Basic Blouse. These are pieces for fantastic daily wear, uniforms for a magical and powerful life.

So far I have a bunch of starts — some very standard shirt and dress combos, some weird crazy costume pieces. I want to have the final pieces be a bit of both: totally wearable while also a bit weird and crazy. More pictures over the next few days.

Thanks for your ongoing support of all things PowerSuit y’all…. I’ve been very much in my head these last few months, but this summer is the summer of sewing. more making less thinking GO!

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work hard; spring is coming

Two weeks in and I’m already behind. As always I’ve taken on too many projects and committed to a million meetings — all of which are awesome and incredible and fun and or necessary and I can’t possibly say no. This weekend I had a chance to sit down and sew. I have two projects to show you today for the past two weeks of this project.

But in my head, I feel like I don’t have anything to show you. I have been making up a lot of stories as to why these two pieces “don’t count” or “aren’t good enough.” I want this project to be about making domestic, wearable garments, but I also want to create crazy outrageous non-functional costumes. These aren’t really outrageous or costume-y, one isn’t even completed, and the other is actually cheating because I didn’t make the whole thing from scratch.

OH BUT WAIT, I made up this game – and I didn’t even really make up all the rules yet. The only rule is work. This game is about producing instead of thinking, it’s about making things instead of making lists. These garments are two steps forward towards a clothing line, a coherent project, a next step, a clear vision. So here we go.

planpatterns

For these past two weeks, I created two everyday-wear garments responding to my very immediate environment and personal state of being. These pieces are about planning, preparations, utility, warmth, bundling up for the last bit of winter, dreaming of the adventures ahead, suiting up for times when I’ll be out making and doing and walking around in these costumes. Work hard now, spring is coming.

The first piece is a pair of overalls. I’m almost finished but need to sew in the snaps, and find the right hardware for the straps. The trickiest part was the side-openings, as I didn’t want to have a center fly. I am hoping when finished it’s the right combination of loose fitting for easy bending and moving, but tight enough to feel like it’s made just for me.

overallsprogress

The second piece is a cozy cozy sweater for a cute-lumberjack. I took an old “dad” sweater with a big V neck and added a fleece collar, lined with fuzzy red plaid underneath. It is surprisingly very warm, and I’m excited to ride out the last bit of this winter wearing it.

lumberjacksweater

The only rule is work. Keep working. Keep going. Stop thinking, just make.

Aliya

p.s. yes, I make my patterns out of “Latino Firemen” posters from MFTA.

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MY BRAIN, lately

20120518-151709.jpg

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PowerWoman Breakfast

As a semi-culminating event of my Wassaic Project Residency, I hosted a PowerWoman Breakfast. A team of Powerful Women cooked pancakes for the Business Meeting while blasting a montage of business-related music. All in attendance wore a PowerSuit or a piece of the Wassaic Suit Collection, a limited edition series of wearable Business Blazers that combined nostalgia, business, and power into one costume.

All the suits and many of the materials were sourced from 8 Firehouse Road, a house which over the period of my Wassaic stay was going through a period of upheaval and starting over — cleaning out all the materials from it’s diseased resident, who happened to be a very classy small stature man who wore a great suit.

As I was gathering all these suits I realized that they were a bit of a love-letter to Wassaic. They held so many memories of this man I do not know and of the town he lived in. I also have been carrying around many items and pieces of my past filled with memories. I used the excuse that these were “art supplies” as a reason to keep them around. But like the family of 8 Firehouse Road, it was time to throw some shit out.

I combined the found items and my own collections into a series of wearable PowerSuits, imbued with power and nostalgia.

At the PowerWoman Breakfast Business Meeting we discussed power in relation to what we are wearing and how we take on different personae, and the world relates to us differently based on what we are wearing. We touched on topics of class and perceived wealth, and how that relates to how you are received or related to by the world. We talked about wearing make up and “grown up” clothing and how different employers have required different levels of “professionalism” at work. We talked about the differences in what is “business appropriate” for women versus men, and about the difference between wearing a suit and being one of the crowd – wearing what you think you should be wearing – versus wearing a suit and owning that power, and being your own person inside this “costume”. We talked about how we feel more comfortable in different costumes depending on our context, environment, and location.

Everyone spoke and the discussion was so real and vivid, with each person contributing a story or thought from their past. We had the Wassaic Project residents, staff, and local people from Amenia there, and it was lovely.

The pancakes were DELISH as well.

I’m so excited for where this project is going next! I envision multiple performances in multiple locations. One PowerWoman Breakfast in a diner with everyone wearing the same color suits. Another performance in a corporate Manhattan office with many ladies in suits busying around sewing and sorting and doing very important business related tasks. Another performance in a local hand-made tailor shop

Maybe all the performances feature a Corporate Breakfast? Maybe the commonality is just the suits, and the activity of the Meeting changes. Maybe each performance features a different set of suits, made specifically for and with materials sourced from that location.

As a Wassaic conclusion, I was really pleased with how the event turned out. It incorporated so much of what I had done there over my two months, and so much of the materials that I had brought and also found while there. I’m excited to be launching into the next phase of the PowerSuit project! in the city, in far away places, in your house, in mine, left & right, up & down!

STAY TUNED!

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WHATSZ UP.

HEY DUDESZ.

what are you doing upstate at wasszzieacyockk?? what is an art residency anyway? you’re a doctor? you’re a student? you’re not a student but you’re in school, right? where do you live now?

one of my projects is to write up a brochure called, “So, your friend/family member/lover wants to go to an artist residency?” or “Artist Residencies for not-dummies” or “Artist Residencies, a Guide”. But I might not get to that so here’s my best explanation so far: Artist residencies create an environment, a support, a community that wants you (the artist-in-residence) to “win” at being an artist. maybe that means supporting you financially. maybe that means supporting you with a line of cheerleaders. maybe that means supporting you with cheesecake. maybe that means supporting you with friends. maybe that means supporting you with free time. whatever. they want you to win, succeed, triumph, get lots of trophies, and do that from doing your work, your best work, critically examined, challenged, pushed. The artists in residence are treated like people who have something to say and contribute, not like someone who should/is/has to struggle to make rent or buy groceries or figure out what to do day to day or go to a job or whatever.

from what I’ve seen it doesn’t seem to be a long term solution in most cases but it’s like a huddle maybe. that’s what an artist residency is, that’s what i’m doing.

Here’s some of what that means for me:

1. being taken aback by the beauty and poetry of day-old st. patrick’s day supermarket baked goods compositions.

2. having my art displayed at Sit & Wonder cafe in Prospect Heights!!!

better / more pictures soon, but for now just a taste above. it is so exciting seeing my work set in a real public place, on-goingly! I get to see it every time I get a delicious coffee! and I’ve sold 3 pieces already! to some amazing people I love. so I don’t even have to worry where the work is going — I get to visit it again. Many pieces are still available — let me know if you’d like to purchase any of them or let’s set up a time to take a tour together.  !

3. being a metro-north commuter. I’ve been going back to NYC every weekend to log some hours at my current job, have NYC meetings, check in on my awesome quilts, get a jolt of citttyyy. I’ve been blow away by the generosity of so many lovely friends who have hosted me, hosted my stuff, bought me food, assisted in errands before my show, etc etc etc. An extra special shout out to mermaid joe for providing dried papaya, hair-cutting buzzers, airmattresses & patches of floor, bike lights, & solid friendship.

4. making 1-word flags every day. these are creation flags. creating the day from nothing without context or history, just deciding what word I’m inventing as the theme of the day. not reflective. i have enough reflective crap. I almost finished this project at the end of march, but then I decided I’ll continue for at least April if not longer. When you’re making flags, you need A LOT of flags. imagine a ROOM CEILING BARN! full of flags! FULL OF FLAGS!!!!!! yes. that is what we are talking about people.

also stickers. I made little 1inch x 1 inch stickers of these flags. but they’re not big enough. I will be venturing into 4 in x 4 in flag stickers… but I need buyers to commit to specific flags/stickers first. so claim yours now — let me know which one you want. maybe they should be limited edition. like only 5 of each word. hmmm…. screenprinting??? either way, start claiming words people.

5. drinking a lot of water:

hydration is key. marketing and slogans is becoming something very interesting to me. corporations. conversations in the world. repeated and declared messages in the world. mass producing. stickers.

slogan i thought of today: “EVERYTHING MATTERS.” not yet clear what visual form it takes.

6. doing 8-hour in-studio performances:

I got a really wonderful response to this piece via the MAIL, which is EVEN BETTER THAN THE INTERNET (I said it! ha! take that! doesn’t mean I won’t LOVE you to digitally comment all over this blog. all over my face. wherever.).

Greg, my #1 gold-star-A+friend and fan reflected on my piece some really important thoughts: “you are chewing gum wearing headphones, totally unprofessional!!” OH MAN, GREG YOU GOT ME. geeze what was I thinking? way too (business) casual. sorry y’all. but, on the bright side, Greg said he loved my bad singing. so phew.

7. wearing lipstick every day for a week.

an experiment in being a BusinessLady. and getting lipstick on every cup I drink from. annoying! but classy.

8. making Headquarters Offices. out of a million USPS boxes.

this is inspired by a photo I saw a million years ago from my high school best friend Tessa, who ordered a million free boxes from the USPS and set up a little fort. ever since I saw that I’ve been wanting so badly to do that too, but had no excuse to um, utilize without a specific purpose (?) so many boxes. BUT ART TO THE RESCUE! art is always a great reason to use resources. the pictures above are a prototype. but I’m excited. even just setting up some of the boxes and starting to build around me was calming on an otherwise freak-out day. building a space, a square space, a businesslady zone. an office headquarters. office desk parts will soon be inserted into the spacial sculpture as well. Maybe these fancy stores will host a performance/workday/businesslady time zone workshop workday….

9. making PowerSuits.

deconstructing thrifted blazers, making patterns, making my own patterns, reconstructing, quilting, collecting, being professional.

10. ordering cups of free yogurt online.

11. cutting my hands in all kinds of vaguely stupid ways. I’m up to 3 wounds. they’re all healing but geeze annoying. refraining from posting pictures of the wounds on the internet = even harder / more annoying.

12. organizing a wassaic community wide open passover seder!!!! got my copy of Jonathan Safran Foer’s Haggadah the other week and I’m so excited and inspired! I’ll be combining it with the Bonar Family Haggadah. so excited. that’s my main focus this week — gonna make this holiday real for all of us people.

I’m imagining coordinated passover-costumes (comfy/pillows/regal/desert sandals); screen printed seder plate imagery that’s also on the place-mats; a huge array of different traditions encompassed in the menu and recipes; people from all faiths at the same table talking about real modern stuff they’re thinking about and dealing with and breaking free from; freedom from that which constrains us. YOU’RE INVITED TOO. Friday April 13. LET ME KNOW IF YOU’D LIKE TO COME & BE A PART OF THIS.

13. generally being incredibly awesome and totally attractive.

PUMPED ABOUT LIFE Y’ALL. LET’S DO THIS THING.

love,

aliya

p.s. i have no idea how i’m using these blog categories. this post really did seem to be all of them so clearly they are bad categories. i am forever trying to figure out how to categorize or organize or plan out or list out my life. better.

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“working”: an 8-hour performance reflections

welcome to today, to the Headquarters, to this blog, to my life, to the future.

Being at the Wassaic Project has had me finally focus on making art, instead of just focusing on freaking out or applying for jobs that never get back to me or grocery shopping whatever else I was doing. It is this lovely little town. with beautiful open open roads to bike on, and a studio with all my art supplies ready and set up for me to work. a breath of fresh air from the city. but a nice contrast that has me appreciate the buzz and go and oomph that being in New York City gives me.

Of course, I’ve also been almost paralyzed by my own anxieties. what should I be doing with my time? is this valuable? is this useful? is this the best use of my time here? my time in general? am I wasting time? am I making money? what is money? why bother? how is this sustainable anyways?

and then this PowerSuit Project really started to take shape. PowerSuits, worn as a daily costume, something you put on to take yourself seriously, to do serious BusinessLady things, to have the world see you as a respectable powerful person, to be an empowered strong woman. What if I set up a work area (set inside a bizarre context?) where people came, put on a suit, and did BusinessLady things? What if I made 1 million PowerSuits for all specific different reasons and purposes and people? What if everything was a serious important business-related interaction?

We had a lovely curator visit on Monday from Anne Huntington, curator at AMH Industries. She was wonderful and really gave me some great feedback on my work – mostly that it is resonating with someone. That it makes sense and seems to be going somewhere. From talking with her, and also inspired by my friend Shannon‘s 8-Hour Performances, I decided that today was going to be an 8-hour performance of me working in my studio. not sending emails or writing up proposals or calling people or getting supplies but making things in a studio. No internet or email or calls — working as if this were my real job for 8 hours.

it was crazy! of course, I woke up late. postponed the start of the performance / went an hour later. once I was in the studio, I couldn’t believe how tempting it was to check email/facebook/etc — wanting some sort of feedback that what I was doing was valid. Finally I just started in on a project – almost didn’t matter which one – just to get moving.

Some thoughts and screenshots of the performance throughout the day (i did record the performance, not sure where/if i should post the 8 hours of footage? thoughts?):

today’s daily flag: WONDERMENT

10:27am: wow this is tempting to text/check email/check social media

10:35am: everything is more clumsy with lipstick on

1:25pm: the post office is closed from 1pm – 2:30pm!?!?! they’re bigger slackers than artists

2:59pm: had the thought, “man, I can’t wait to “get off work” so I can call X/ text Y/relax”

3:30pm: thought, “why does this matter? who cares if I make blazers all day? while wearing lipstick? this is a stupid use of my time. Why did I prioritize this? also none of these garments are turning out anyway

3:39pm : WHO CARES. let’s just have fun with this anyway. make a hood for my Bonfire Bear Blazer

7:16pm: end. Bonfire Blazer is almost finished (needs edited hood, liner, button/closure.

celebrate with Ian (studio mate) with white wine in a red cup. contemplate new jobs and 8-hour day structures.

money. art. value. time. business.

BusinessLadyTime.

i liked this. I think I will do one day like this per week. and also mornings in the studio. to get going instead of getting sucked into the internets….

focus was key.

What did you think? did you drop in on the performance? what was it like for you? please let me know!

more blazers blaizin away… tomorrow.

GOODNIGHT!

aliya

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