In 2010, a social media manager combined her painting skills with her ability to design and construct clothing. The result was Artfully Awear, a website and a social media account that highlights Ariel Adkins' ability to make clothing inspired by art. So far, Adkins has featured an impressive hand-painted dress inspired by Vasily Kandinsky's Composition 8, a polka-dotted jumpsuit inspired by Yayoi Kusama's Infinity Mirrors, and a long white jacket colorfully accented with multicolored sheafs inspired by Henri Matisse's large-scale ceramic, La Gerbe.
Growing up in a household with parents who were artists, Adkins was always experimenting creatively. "I've always had a deep love of visual art and for me, translating my inspiration into my personal style is the ultimate stamp of approval," explains Adkins to Creators. Before designing her own art-inspired fashion, she tried to mimic works of art by dressing in a specific color palette or wearing garments that formally related to artwork. "I eventually became frustrated with the limited range of what I could find, and decided to make my own. The switch to making my clothing gave me so much more freedom of expression, and simultaneously launched me on an obsessive path to understand and emulate the techniques of the artists' whose work inspired me."
To date, Adkins has made 32 art-inspired outfits. She says she makes the clothing as a way to continue to deepen her knowledge of art history and learn more about the ways artists consider formal qualities, process and technique. "I often choose artworks that stand out to me visually, and that represent a theme I've been wanting to explore," she explains. "My inspiration is pretty open ended, but I love working with contemporary artists because they can answer my questions!"
On her Artfully Awear social media accounts, Adkins not only upload her handmade creations, but also reveals her processes through videos, a way to inspire others to create art inspired garments. Adkins usually wears her outfits to an opening, blogs about the exhibition, and personally contextualizes the art and artist she is inspired by. In a recent website post about the Kandinsky dress, Adkins writes: "Vasily Kandinsky is the artist I most closely associate with the museum, and for good reason: his work made up the initial collection that launched the Guggenheim to be what it is today. In the current exhibition, Visionaries: Creating a Modern Guggenheim, the work of Kandinsky is seen alongside work by Pablo Picasso, Piet Mondrian, and Alexander Calder, among others." Her approach represents but one of the infinite different ways to engage with the art you're inspired by.
A future ambition of Adkins is to used her platform for arts education. At Artfully Awear: Learn How to Dress Like a Work of Art and Create Your Own Masterpiece, a recent workshop, students discussed their personal style and chose an artwork that resonated with them. "They were encouraged to consider the artwork objectively," Adkins explains, "distilling themes and techniques before creating their own garment inspired by the work." She is currently working on a similar online course in an effort to make the class more accessible as a resource for art educators in schools and museums.
"Aside from education, I still have a lot to explore in my own work," she says. "I'd like to experiment with different materials and methods of creating garments inspired by sculpture and digital artwork, and there are many artists and genres that I've yet to explore."
"My vision is that Artfully Awear becomes a movement: encouraging people of all ages to engage with art in a deeper, more meaningful way, and ultimately to gather inspiration to create something new," she concludes.
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