Please wait

Closets, Capes, and Charcoal

MAY 14, 2013

Artist-in-Residence Kira Lynn Harris helps YI Writer Alesa practice her large-scale charcoal drawing, May 2013. Photograph by Jason Mandella

Artist-in-Residence Kira Lynn Harris helps YI Writer Alesa practice her large-scale charcoal drawing, May 2013. Photograph by Jason Mandella

This spring, our field trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the exhibition Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity inspired the YI Writers to explore fashion in a few different ways. We worked with artist-in-residence Kira Lynn Harris to draw individual articles of clothing and/or accessories that, all together, make up one huge closet..The article of clothing could be something we have or want, but should relate to ourselves in some way. Our drawings were made in charcoal (both black and colored) on large, 5-foot pieces of paper..

From the beginning, I had decided to draw a cape. After realizing how big the paper really was, I decided to draw a mask and utility belt as well. All of my subjects came from my love for Batman (and my desire for a cape). Finding the references was a much harder task. It took a lot of typing, clicking, and scrolling, but I found two references for each subject. Then I had to draw it all on smaller pieces of paper, practicing with different charcoal techniques. The cape gave me the most difficulty. It’s the largest part of the drawing and it required a lot of curves and lines to give it a flowing look. When the drawing was finished, I went over it and filled in the Bat-symbol with yellow charcoal.

Kira Lynn Harris explains the large-scale drawing project to YI Writers, May 2013. Photograph by Jason Mandella

YI Writers look on as Harris demonstrates techniques for working with charcoal, May 2013. Photograph by Jason Mandella

YI Writers settle down with their drawing materials in the Whitney Studio, May 2013. Photograph by Jason Mandella

Writers Julio and Jia experiment with different types of charcoal, May 2013. Photograph by Jason Mandella

Outside in the Whitney’s Sculpture Court, Harris discusses how things are going with Writers Ina and Luis, May 2013. Photograph by Jason Mandella

Alesa’s large-scale hat drawing, May 2013. Photograph by Correna Cohen

Arif’s charcoal jean jacket, May 2013. Photograph by Correna Cohen

Jitan contributes a gas mask to the closet, May 2013. Photograph by Correna Cohen

Melissa’s giant Batman-inspired cape, May 2013. Photograph by Correna Cohen

It was really fun working with Harris on this project. She was enthusiastic about everyone’s drawings and encouraged us when we were stuck. When I was having trouble with my cape and the Bat-symbol, Harris gave me advice on loosening up and not worrying too much about total perfection. Because of that, I was able to finish and be satisfied with a drawing that would have taken me much longer otherwise.

By Melissa, Youth Insights Writer