Tattoos, nail art, fashion and jewelry – all design elements humans have used for centuries to adorn their bodies – are the focus of Body Embellishment, the newest Mint Museum-organized exhibition, on view in Charlotte, N.C., until Sept. 6, 2015.
This provocative exhibition of nearly 100 objects from contemporary designers and artists that extend, augment and modify the body to reflect life in the 21st century is “innovative, international and sexy,” said Hillary Cooper, director of advancement & communications at the Mint Museum.
The body is, in effect, the canvas for theses artists to express their radical responses to ever-changing concepts of beauty, personal and group identity, and culture. They employ skin discolorations, exaggerated and extended nails, wearable sculpture, and morphing body shapes to tell their stories, convey their visions, and challenge standard notions of beauty.
Body Embellishment sets the stage at the outset with a projection of a stylized body in motion. It quickly moves into daring territory with photographic displays of tattoo imagery. One man is decorated with a permanent, full-color body suit of tattoos, which essentially are healed wounds produced by injecting ink under the skin. While inked skin is millennia-old, it is becoming more accepted and common today, as an estimated 51% of women and 49% of men in the U.S. have at least one tattoo, according to the Mint Museum.
With his elaborate hutch and chair, artist Carlos Rolon illustrates the ancient practice of hand decoration and nail art by paying tribute to the bootleg hair and nail salon his mother ran in her Chicago home. In addition, he crafts flashy custom middle-finger rings for ex-lovers, also inspired by the gossip and intimate conversations that occur in salons.
The works of jewelry in Body Embellishment convey the triangular relationship between the art’s creator, wearer and viewer, and push the boundaries of wearable art.
Groundbreaking fashion, as presented by threeASFOUR, is based on various forms of geometry and features 3-D printed dresses and laser-cut garments – all wearable sculptures.
Accompanying Body Embellishment is a full slate of educational programming, artist visits and lectures, parties and other special events.
The underlying premise of Body Embellishment is that collectively examining the extreme, avant-garde, and revolutionary forms of body art will shed light on the cultural meaning and implications of body embellishment overall.
When you go
Mint Museum Uptown
500 South Tryon Street
Charlotte, NC 28202
Click here for other articles by Mary Gilbert. You also can read her travel stories on her blog, The Roads Traveled, at theroadstraveled.com.