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UMass Art Exhibit - Shana Harden - "The Death of Innocence (Transform)"

Posted: May 5, 2012     Nancy J Conrad

Found wedding gown, faux roses, gesso, acrylic paint, shellac, spray paint, plastic dip, gauze, tulle, cotton fabric, felt, wire, thread, glue  2012. USA.

Shana Harden UMass Art Student
Interview with Shana Harden

I already had the idea before I got the synonym and its based on the work of a famous sculptor artist:  Petah Coyne.  She works primarily with ornate flowers and textual elements and belongs to a collective gallery in NY.  I wanted to make a wearable and I wanted to use her influence.  Yes, the dress is a real dress and it is wearable. It has a zipper fits me but it is very heavy.  I started with an old wedding gown and catered it to my body - brought the waist line up, things like that.  I   deconstructed it and put it back together again.  I haven’t put it on since I added everything but it is flexible and I can lay it down.

Dyed it black. Used six cans of spray paint and gallons of paint

Literally I was transforming this innocent wedding dress into a dark layered materialized piece of art, more sculptural than anything else.  Although there is an influence of fashion,  it is still wearable in the gallery space and sculpturally it is considered high art and not commercial wear.  So imagine walking into a wedding shop and seeing this dress on display.  People would say:  That needs to be in an art gallery. 

Influence of Materialism

Absolutely not!  It was really important to me to take into account that I knew it would be black which has certain  associations with it - darkness, evil.  I am drawn to that so I wanted to make sure that was the concept behind it.  So by taking this one dress, representing innocence and security, and the red roses, and building on top of an object that represents life in general.  We start out with no influence, being completely innocent and having no idea what there world really is.

Having all these influences, and experiences - that's not necessarily negative but the materialistic aspect that comes along with growing up in general, that's what the art is about.  Our society is so based on materialism.  The ornate thick over layer of this dress so represents the materialism because it was so expensive to make. - close to $1000. 

The combination of paint, materials and flowers  - especially the flowers.  The dress was only $38 at a thrift store.  I thought of leaving some of the red showing - what that would do and what it would mean but for my aesthetic, it didn’t appeal to me.  I am more interested in the bondage and that requires all black.

Is the Transformation Complete?

UC News:  The word "transform" is not the word "transformation" which represents the end result.  Is your art work fully transformed?  Is this the transformation?  Is it complete? Is this death?

Shana:  It represents a certain death.  It is not a finality.  It’s the overtake of consumption on the human body.  There is a lack of a human in the piece and I thought about having somebody wear it, to display it.  But it is really important to me to show it without a human being in it because it is showing the consumption that overtakes oneself.

So there is still the possibility of resurrection here despite the lack of a human.  A human could emerge out of wherever they are hiding.  But right now it is a state of being overcome.


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