Tuesday, February 10, 2015

silkworms to kimono in Elsabé Dixon's Live/Life

Elsabé Dixon's installation Live/Life, at Artisphere through February 22, represents well Rosslyn's dynamic interaction with the natural world. Ms. Dixon's installation cultivates domesticated silkworms into beautiful shapes and patterns. The silkworms produce silk and die. But like Rosslyn trees shedding their flower petals, that isn't the end. New buds will come. More silkworms will be born. Rosslyn residents continually make new creations with the natural world around them.
Ms. Dixon encourages visitors to appreciate the silkworms life cycle, the importance of human cultivation in the silkworm life cycle, and new works that can be created with the silkworms' work. An important form of human work from silk is clothing. The Japanese have a rich cultural heritage of silk garments called kimono. Like reading the signs of nature in the state of silkworms, various wrapping and designs of kimono speak about a wearer's place in her life and society.
This past Sunday afternoon, a group of women modeled silk kimonos within the installation space. The beauty of their dresses surely pleased the spirits of the silkworms represented in their physical remains and created patterns. The group's leader was Emmalee June Aman. She sells vintage Japanese kimono and other silk items. Making an authentic kimono requires the work of 10 to 30 highly skilled craftspersons, each of which spends 5 to ten years under a master to learn her or his skill. The items Ms. Aman has selected and imported are available for purchase through Etsy at very reasonable prices. Get some silk and fold it and wrap it into your life.

Elsabé Dixon has open studio hours in her installation in the Artist in Residence Studio in Rosslyn's Artisphere: Thursday and Friday, 6-10pm, and Sunday, noon to 5pm. If you don't appreciate the wonder of silk, you will after experiencing this installation and talking with Elsabé Dixon.

Update:  Ms. Aman has kindly supplied some corrections. The Tribune's journalist regrets that he lacks expertise in kimonos. Ms. Aman stated:
It is my hope to share & spread a love of kimono as sustainable, wearable art with others in the USA, in a way which respects the garments, the artisans who made them, & the tradition from which they were born.

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