Thursday, August 11, 2016


Is this not the most adorable art studio you've ever seen?!

One of the best parts of sharing your creative journey with the Internet is the inspirational people you find along the way.  When Carrie Schmitt messaged me on Instagram a few weeks ago, I immediately felt an affinity with her work and her mantra to "Surround yourself with beauty".  An artist and author who lives on a mossy hill just outside of Seattle, Carrie's love for art and color transcends every aspect of her life, even her yoga practice.  Going against everything they tell you about meeting people on the Internet, we decided to meet IRL while I was visiting Seattle over the weekend.

Carrie picked me up in the city and we drove out through many, many pine trees to her studio on a farm, which was the most picturesque location I could ever imagine.  She was working on two large-scale paintings (a new format for her), and I brought along my own canvas (a white romper) so we could create together.

Carrie walked me through her process of making a painting, including her approach and her favorite colors and brands of paints (she includes Prussian Blue in every painting!).  Happily chatting away, she painted the large canvases while I painted my garment, using her style and influence to capture the vibrancy of her works.

The more we talked and painted, the more I realized how much we had in common.  Even though we had extremely different life paths, we connected spiritually through our love for color and expressive artwork.

After my outfit was complete, we snapped some photos with her amazing paintings!

Thank you, Carrie, for such a unique and inspirational experience.  I can't wait to see you back on the West Coast very soon!

Photos by myself and Carrie Schmitt.
Romper from the Gap - purchased in store for $4.97!
 Shoes from J. Crew

Thursday, July 28, 2016


"Without a doubt, if all black children were daily growing up in environments where they learned the importance of art and saw artists that were black, our collective black experience of art would be transformed." --bell hooks

I recently read an essay by bell hooks called "Art Is For Everybody"* which addresses the problem of black identification with art - why, in her words, "black folks have tended to see art as completely unimportant in the struggle for survival."  Shortly after reading the essay, I came across this photo in my Facebook newsfeed.  Never before have I seen one image which more embodies the importance of black representation in art.  My friend's daughter Elizabeth clearly saw something of herself in Mickalene Thomas' Three Graces: Les Trois Femmes Noires at the North Carolina Museum of Art, and this, folks, is how we solve the problem of black identification with the art establishment.

Cultural institutions, take note: representation matters.

Photo by Catherine Allison of her daughter Elizabeth (shared with her permission).
*I haven't been able to find the essay online, but you can read it in the book Drawing Us In: How We Experience Visual Art.

Sunday, July 24, 2016


"Art exists only to communicate a spiritual message."--Alphonse Mucha

Today is the 156th anniversary of Alphonse Mucha's birth!  I'm celebrating by revisiting one of my favorite posts from 2013, where I dressed in my best Mucha-inspired ensemble and frolicked through the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.  See the full post here.

Friday, July 8, 2016


"Art is the highest form of hope." -Gerhard Richter

I finally got to visit the new SFMoMA yesterday, which reopened after a long remodel.  In anticipation of the visit, I painted this dress, inspired by Gerhard Richter's 256 Farben (256 Colors) from 1974, which is part of the Fisher collection at the museum.

The colors in Richter's color chart paintings are ordered by chance, which seems surprising when you encounter the precise-looking arrangement.    Of these works, Richter is quoted as having said that he "...found it interesting to tie chance to a wholly rigid order."  We happened to notice that there were more warm tones on the left side of the canvas, and for some reason this made me appreciate the painting even more.

It was fun wearing my handpainted dress to the museum, and I even made a few friends in the process.  One is a photographer from Seattle named Sam Saimo who took the photo below and kindly emailed it to me!  Another was an elderly lady who exclaimed, "There's hope in the world!" when I told her about my process for creating art-inspired clothing.

256 Farben is just one of the hundreds of modern works on few at the new museum, and I encourage you to make a visit the next time you're in the Bay Area.

Photos by William Sealy, and the bottom photo by Sam Saimo.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016


Isis depicted with outstretched wings (wall painting, c. 1360 BCE)

I had a very unique experience over the weekend, when I spent the night at the Isis Oasis Retreat Center, in Geyserville, CA.  In their words, the Isis Oasis is an animal sanctuary, non-profit temple, and community center guided by the Divine Feminine, the goddess Isis - around whom the entire operation is based.

Isis is the Egyptian goddess of health, marriage, and wisdom (also associated with nature and magic) and her name means "throne".  She married her brother Osiris and is the mother of Horus, the falcon god associated with kingship.  She was worshiped throughout Egyptian times, up until the present day, and is depicted countless times throughout Art History - commonly in hieroglyphics with her arms outstretched.

Isis is the theme of the retreat center, and there are two temples dedicated to her on site.  I enjoyed exploring the grounds, and using the opportunity to get closer to nature - and experience some solitude outside of the city.

Photos by William Sealy.

Monday, June 13, 2016


Paul Gauguin, Ia Orana Maria (Hail Mary), 1891.
Ever since I spotted this vintage jumpsuit in a thrift shop years ago, the young ladies depicted within its pattern have reminded me of Paul Gauguin's Tahitian paintings.  I wore it to the Metamorphoses exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in 2014, but I never obtained proof of the garment's likeness to the paintings since photographs were prohibited within the space.  Yesterday afternoon at The Met, the outfit finally met its match.  The painting depicted, Ia Orana Maria (Hail Mary), was Gauguin's first major painting after he relocated to Tahiti, and it is interesting to note it's Catholic theme juxtaposed with Polynesian subjects.  I had a chuckle thinking about the trickle-down effect of culture and how an image so much like a 19th century masterpiece could be featured on a kitschy 1980s ensemble.

Photo by Kathy Paciello.

Thursday, June 9, 2016


Yesterday afternoon, in the middle of a very unexpected rainstorm, I stumbled into Andrew Kreps Gallery and Billy Al Bengston’s Warm California.  The hanging and standing scrolls that California-based Bengston created in the 1970s fill the gallery, recalling the effects of light on the surface of water.  To me, walking through the gallery felt something like being surrounded by the fronds of a weeping willow – the hanging scrolls swayed every so slightly and turned with the movement of forms through the space.  It was a serene environment, which Bengston likened to a kelp forest, and was a welcome respite from the downpour outdoors.

The exhibition is on view until June 18th.

Blouse: Tucker
Shoes: Escada

Photos by Kathy Paciello