Dress Shop brings together recent work by artists Lesia Sochor (Brooks, Maine) and Crystal Cawley (Portland, Maine) that references women’s fashions and garment forms. Both artists’ work incorporates found papers and is exquisitely crafted with close attention to detail, suggestive of the careful craftsmanship associated with hand-tailored clothing. Included in the exhibition are selections from Sochor’s Bodice paintings and Cawley’s One Hundred Drawings of the Same Thing and Thinking Caps.
Lesia Sochor’s translucent images of dress bodices are painted in thin layers of oil on paper sewing patterns, allowing the multilingual instructional text printed on the patterns to remain visible. “My mother was an accomplished seamstress,” she says, “and at an early age, I was aware that fashion crossed cultural borders.” For Sochor, the Bodice paintings are not just fashion statements, but commentaries on society’s obsession with style and trend, the enormity of today’s garment industry, and the attendant reduction of detail, craftsmanship, and quality.
Crystal Cawley’s One Hundred Drawings of the Same Thing began as a simple idea for “bashing through a creative block,” using a circa-1900 dress form as a drawing subject. “I did not have a final number in mind, just the wish to focus on something for a time to see what might come of it,” says the artist. “When I started these, I think I was trying to make myself ‘draw,’ that is, use a pen or a pencil on paper, but I learned that I’m more interested in using other things for drawing — playing with ideas through materials and the activity of combining them in unexpected ways.”
Cawley's Thinking Caps derive from an investigation into the origins of the phrase "put on your thinking cap," in particular a reference to the children’s book character Goody Two-Shoes, who uses her "thinking cap" to handle conflicts with people. “The hat was three-sided and was printed with things to think about before speaking hastily or unkindly to someone,” says the artist. “I started imagining what other thinking caps might look like, and then I had to make some.”