Black tie optional at ‘Dress Code’ art gallery exhibition

The College Art Gallery is presenting “Dress Code,” an exhibition of works by three emerging artists.

For the exhibit, the artists abandoned the traditional perception of art and replaced it with performance and public intervention.

“Dress Code” presents a different view of clothing, emphasizing the social and emotional impact of clothing on today’s society. The three international artists, Elke Lehmann, Jillian Mcdonald and Momoyo Torimitsu, each use clothing as a means of expression.

The exhibition first presents the video work of Torimitsu titled “Miyata Jiro,” which in Japanese translates into “salary man.” The artist created a lifelike robot of a Japanese businessman and had him crawl along the streets of different business districts around the world, including Paris, New York, Tokyo and Amsterdam.

Torimitsu accompanied the crawling robot dressed as a nurse, implying that the situation was “taken care of.”

At the opening for “Dress Code,” Torimitsu explained, “I didn’t want to do this for an art crowd.” She felt the exhibit would get a different variety of reactions from regular business people walking the streets.

The reactions of the passersby ranged greatly depending on the city. In New York City, curiosity got the best of the people walking by, while in Torimitsu’s native country of Japan, no one spoke to her at all.

The second artist featured in the “Dress Code” exhibit was Mcdonald and her work “Seams.”

A year after Sept. 11, Mcdonald set up a storefront in Manhattan and invited people walking by to lend an article of clothing that held some significance in that person’s life.

Afterward, she spoke with everyone about their own personal fears and anxieties. Mcdonald then translated each person’s fears into “personal protection messages,” which she stitched into the seams of their clothing.

Messages ranged from “for patience, wisdom” to “for protection against greedy war enthusiasts and their actions.”

The last part of the exhibit featured artist and former professor Lehmann with “Rebagged.” Lehmann took different pieces of clothing and incorporated the signature shopping bags in which they were purchased into the actual tops, skirts, hoods and pockets.

The different pieces of clothing hang on mannequins and feature garments and bags from stores ranging from the Gap to Armani Exchange. The purpose of this particular project was to show the impact that logos and brand names have on a piece of clothing.

Lehmann became inspired for the idea while living in New York City and constantly witnessing the different shopping bags and how they came to be status symbols.

Liselot van der Heijden, assistant professor, curated the exhibition to display the different aspects of contemporary art. The exhibition can be seen at the College Art Gallery until March 31.