“Nothing, perhaps, is so full of sad suggestiveness as an old-clothes shop. It is an epitome of human life, working out in its own dumb way the form, if not the solution, of many of the problems which oppress us, and setting forth in faded, melancholy fashion, the vanity of all earthly things, and how transitory is all created beauty.” Charles Dickens, All the Year Round, February 20, 1864
I started this project by taking photographs at a charity thrift shop called The Wardrobe. I expanded this work to include photographs taken at Stephens College Historical Costume Collection. Most recently, I expanded the project with clothing at a thrift store in Hudson, NY, while I was in residency at Art Omi.
I often find myself wondering about the stories of the clothes. And I feel kind of sorry for them. Once treasured garments, they were discarded as the wearer moved on to new styles and fashions.
What affluence we have, that we can afford to cast away our clothes so often. And what does fashion mean, that it leads us to quit wearing perfectly functional clothing in favor of the latest trend?
By placing the photographs side by side (or one on top of the other), I rearrange how the clothes are displayed, spatially and temporally. Spatially, by juxtaposing clothes that were not physically hanging together. Temporally, by juxtaposing images from different months or even years. I also create fictitious garments, in a patchwork made from photographic fragments of the clothes. With more cropped close-up photographs of the clothing, the work has evolved into abstractions of color and texture.
Maybe I can give them some new kind of life, and we can appreciate their beauty, even as they hang forlorn and discarded.