Late Nights at the Whitney
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On December 11, as a part of the Whitney’s Family Programs Artist’s Choice Workshop series, Brooklyn-based sculptor E.V. Day joined families to explore the exhibition Charles LeDray: workworkworkworkwork. After viewing and discussing LeDray’s installation, MENS SUITS, Day led an art-making workshop with participating children and parents.
Every detail of LeDray’s MENS SUITS—from the dust sitting atop the ceiling tiles to the grime on the floor—was intentionally included and handcrafted by the artist. The three miniature tableaux suggest different views of a thrift store: random picked-over racks of clothing, a smartly dressed mannequin on display, and a disheveled back storeroom.
LeDray and Day’s work both address clothing and scale, but the artists use them in very different ways. While LeDray crafts precise, small-scale replicas of garments, Day blows clothing up, in more ways than one. Day is best known for her Exploding Couture series, in which she deconstructs women’s high fashion to create dramatic installations. Her work, Bombshell, comprised of fragments of a larger-than-life replica of Marilyn Monroe’s infamous white dress, was shown in the 2000 Whitney Biennial exhibition and is now a part of the Museum’s collection. Both artists also tackle traditional notions of gender. While LeDray depicts a men’s store with the hallmark of professional masculinity—the suit and tie—Day manipulates Monroe's dress, a classic symbol of femininity and sexuality.
During the workshop, Day focused on LeDray’s intimate scale. Referencing her earlier series of Mummified Barbies, Day led families in creating their own wrapped dolls. Kids collaborated with their parents to wrap, distort, and glam up their own dolls. Mummies were outfitted with high heels and purses and Barbie boxes were converted into tiny sarcophagi. Everyone had fun experimenting with diverse materials and found objects, even Day—she used Wikki stix to add chic neon accents to her mummy.
By Desi Gonzalez, Family Programs Assistant