Sew The Tradition Continues Is one of the many Art works that was entered into the 2010 Annual Juried Student Art Exhibition. Rebecca Robinson, who is the artist of this piece, is one of the several senior students that submitted a variety of fine arts projects. Robinson is an Art Studio major with a concentration in painting. With several other of her entries being paintings, Sew The Tradition Continues uniquely different from the rest of her works. Made from a variety of materials, this mixed media entry is feminine and quaint. Sew The Tradition Continues will be displayed from April 12-May 22, 2010 at The State University Of Oneonta Martine-Mullen Art Gallery.
The piece was created in the schools Artist Books class which introduces the dynamic field of Artists Books. With the new artist form rising rapidly since the early 1980’s, several schools have decided to introduce this art category into the curriculum. Artist books have explored both traditional and innovative book structures; Sew The Tradition Continues does this precisely. In the Suny Oneonta class, the teacher’s objective is to allow the student to develop a broad spectrum of theoretical approaches as well as design. The intensions of Artist Books, is that students will produce a number of sculptural book objects with a strong conceptual base. Aesthetic consideration is brought to this class from, Drawing, Design, Photography, Printmaking, Sculpture, Painting, Ceramics, and Computer Art. The combination of artistic skills and concepts produce this new artistic field of complimentary components.
In the Creation of Rebecca’s Artist Book, she experimented with dress patterns by fusing two pieces together to create a translucent sheet that was durable and aesthetical. With a durable medium, Robinson was able to sew the material and apply fabric using web fusing. With these materials she created the skirt for the dress that represented pages of her book. Rebecca handwrote her story on the folded dress skirt, the story tells about her first introduction to sewing. The story then proceeds on to tell how she learned different techniques from her mother and further how sewing weaved its way in and out of her life for the past thirty years. The Bodice of the dress holds the quotes from her daughter on the learning process of sewing. She used a translucent fabric to randomly sew these quotes onto the dress. Rebecca initial struggled for the title and finally came up with Sew The Tradition Continues, which was quite an appropriate title for such an Artists Book. The base of Rebecca Robinson’s book b is a traditional mannequin.
Sew The Tradition Continues is a twofold, as Rebecca Robinson created her book she also taught her daughter to sew. She was taken by her daughter’s interest and excitement to learn the new skill of sewing. Unplanned for the two to go hand and hand, Robinson was thrilled for the tradition of sewing to give her such inspiration for her Artist Book. Subsequently, Robinson bought her daughter a small sewing machine so the two could work side by side as she created her book. Surprised by her daughter’s perseverance she was enthralled that her daughter was actively working on straight stitches, moving the fabric around, backing up and asking all the right questions. The concept for Robinson’s book was based on her love for sewing, and how she learned sewing for her mother, as well as how she was passing her knowledge of sewing to her daughter. Though the means for sewing changed from one generation to the next, it is unique in that all the women that inspirited Robinson’s artist book had a desire to create.
The mannequin in Rebecca’s Artist Book speaks volumes about her work. This articulated female figure is often used by artists, tailors, dressmakers, and others especially when displaying clothing, so it is only appropriate that Robinson used the mannequin as her base. Sadly the female mannequin is an idealized female body, with no legs or features other than the ever so prominent hourglass torso. Robinson’s inspiration came from her childhood. Not coming from a wealthy family, Robinson often made clothes for her dolls and Barbie’s. Learning to sew at an early age allowed Robinson to create and design clothing at a young age, thus permitting her to create a wardrobe of variety for her small framed idol. With Barbie being one of the most iconic hourglass shapes, it is understandable that Robinson after years and years of sewing toy clothing, drew inspiration from Barbie’s figure. Both mannequins and Barbie are identified as surprisingly sexual female figures, in which young children constantly associate themselves with. With the bust and hips of the mannequin/Barbie almost the same size, and the waist minuscule in comparison. The female body standard is being portrayed to be unrealistically small like mannequins and Barbie. It allows viewers to perceive the female figure as an object, instead of being a subject, giving it a promiscuous connotation. This iconic figure is recognizable to every western woman; it has influence and changed the thoughts and feelings of the female self-image from decades. Fortunately, children in today’s generation have different views on self-image. Luckily, with Women such as Robinson influence children to be creative and innovative, to learn through curiosity and not demand.
Sew The Tradition Continues is more than just a glance back at a childhood. It is a flash back in to the reality of materialism in America. Robinson’s humble childhood inspired many phases of her life. Barbie may not have prompted a national crisis in female self-esteem, but it certainly touched many lives nationwide. The vampy fashion doll helped to bring about the sexualization of childhood, evidence of which is everywhere today. Fortunately Rebecca Robinson’s daughter desire to sew came from the joy of watching her mother’s creative and artist abilities, and not from the desire to make Barbie even more materialistic than she already is. The beauty of the project lies with in the custom. Three generations of sewers, three different women, and one beautifully formed Artist Book.