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Two of the Greatest Rides in Film

Our guest blogger today is Heath Benfield, co-founder of Invention Pictures, a video/photo services company in Indianapolis.

Still from "2001: A Space Odyssey," 1968.

Image courtesy of Robert Wilson.

Everybody loves movies, especially Americans. We took ownership of the medium at the height of the Industrial Revolution, and much like Henry Ford via his assembly line, bestowed a beloved commodity to the masses.

So, it’s appropriate to consider film to be the first great democratic art form. It invites and reflects all walks of life and social classes. It inspires us to imagine how far we can go, while simultaneously shaming us for how pathetically we have evolved. We sit together in the darkened theater, collectively taking a ride that even Ford could never deliver.

Two such epic adventures can be found in Apocalypse Now and 2001: A Space Odyssey. These movies ranked #14 and #6 respectively in Sight & Sound’s definitive 2012 poll. They remain staples in Roger Ebert’s all-time top 10. They are intrinsically linked as the best modern myths of Homeric proportions. Both take us on spiritual journeys toward the edges of existence without looking back.

Still from "2001: A Space Odyssey," 1968.

Still from “2001: A Space Odyssey,” 1968.

Francis Ford Coppola’s bizarre odyssey to complete Apocalypse Now is well documented as being just as surreal as the story (Heart of Darkness) and war (Vietnam) that inspired it. The filmmaker and his crew nearly lost their minds by the end of the 18-month production. Even star Martin Sheen suffered a heart attack that almost killed him. The result is a primal nightmare that challenges the existence of humanity’s soul. The voyage through the Nung is a Hellish descent down the River Styx. By film’s end, “the horror” will burrow into your core and challenge everything you’ve ever believed in.

Still from "Apocalypse Now," 1979.

Still from “Apocalypse Now,” 1979.

A decade prior, the meticulous Stanley Kubrick set sail on a journey of even greater magnitude. In 2001: A Space Odyssey, he takes us from the dawn of time to the conceivable end of existence through methods exclusive to the magic of movies. The drums of Stauss’s Also sprach Zarathustra themselves transport us to an age beyond human comprehension. It might be the closest that mankind will ever come to appreciating the expanse of our limitless universe.

Still from "2001: A Space Odyssey," 1968.

Still from “2001: A Space Odyssey,” 1968.

I could go on, and on, and on, but no amount of hyperbole can live up to experiencing these masterpieces on the big screen. Please, I beg you to put aside life’s worries, crowd into the darkened Toby theater for two Friday evenings, and lose yourself to the ultimate power of cinema. Trust me, it’s a ride you won’t want to miss.

Apocalypse Now screens tomorrow evening at 7pm in the Toby.  2001: A Space Odyssey screens at 7pm on Friday, February 8 and at 2pm on Sunday, February 10 in the Toby. Both are part of the Winter Nights film series at the IMA.

Filed under: Film, Public Programs, The Toby


Designing for Project IMA: Reinterpretation and Reuse

Our guest blogger today is Margarita Mileva, a designer in tonight's Project IMA fashion show.

“Fashion is architecture: it is a matter of proportions.” – Coco Chanel

I grew up in a family of artists: my father was a painter and my mother is a sculptor. At home, it was like an open house for other artists to come over and passionately discuss art and politics. For me, the best painter was my dad and the best sculptor was my mom. So I guess the other “real” artistic professions, in which I will not compete with them, was to become an architect. I was good in mat, loved problem solving, and was fascinated by shapes and colors, so becoming an architect was a very natural path for me to choose. From here comes my deep interest towards fashion as an art form, with its volumes, colors and proportions.

This is my second participation in Project IMA. Two years ago, my daughter and I created a dress made from rubber bands as part of Project IMA: Fashion Unbound.  It was a great experience to be involved with the Indianapolis Museum of Art and I am thrilled that I have the opportunity to contribute again. For my current entry, I found inspiration in this evening dress by Norman Norell:

I wanted to grasp the spirit of Norell’s work and give it a new, contemporary interpretation. My work, which will be made entirely from different sized black rubber bands and industrial felt scraps, is continuation of the design ideas developed in my conceptual project “Recycling of the Architectural Office,” in which I explored the ever-changing character of the contemporary architectural office and how standard tools become obsolete in lieu of digital technology. Recently I’ve also been thinking about our current economic condition, and opening our senses towards the use of alternative materials, recycling and upcycling. I believe that we have to be environmentally responsible and conscious about our surroundings. My submission to Project IMA is my creative response towards finding new sources and expressions. Intrigued and inspired by the Chantilly lace that Norell used, I created my own version of the delicate net by using only black rubber bands. Thousands of rubber bands are knotted, interlocked, twisted together and assembled in order to create the unique texture of the garment. Looking for a fusion of past and present, I’ve chosen to pay respect in this way and give a modern interpretation of the artistic techniques associated with creating fabric, all done by hand. Norell used fox fur to trim the lampshade-shaped top of the evening dress. Half a century later, and living in different environment, I decided to interpret his design by using colorful industrial felt scrap circles. The felt that I used is 100% wool – a biodegradable and renewable material.

In my work, I am inspired both by the artistic and cultural heritage of couture, and am intrigued by innovative designers like Norell who changed the shape and the mood of fashion with his geometrical shapes and attention to detail.  You’ll have to come to Project IMA tonight to see the results of my work.  I hope that you will find it interesting, challenging and a valuable contribution to the show.


Filed under: Art, Public Programs, Textile & Fashion, The Collection, The Toby


Designing for Project IMA: Inspired by Norell

Our guest blogger today is Julie Diller. She is designer of ohm, a women's clothing collection and will be participating in Thursday's Project IMA show.

I work at a large table in an old candy factory in Brooklyn, New York. I’ve been designing and making clothes for thirty years, and my passion for it has has only grown over time. Though I live in Brooklyn, I visit Indianapolis often and I came to the IMA this summer with my sister for a tour of the fashion exhibition that inspired this year’s Project IMA.

Norman Norell, “dress,” 1968-1971.Gift of Clare Eggleston Geiman in memory of Norman Norell. 1985.667.

I met Niloo and Petra, the curators responsible for the organization of fashion arts and textile exhibitions at the museum. After speaking with them, I decided to  make a couple garments and submit them as entries in Project IMA.  Below is an image of the pattern I drafted after being inspired by a dress in the exhibition by Norman Norell.  This deceptively simple day dress was carefully constructed with a fitted torso and molded waist.  The skirt’s beige fabric was cut on the straight grain, using a technique called slashing and navy blue fabric inserts were then added. It’s an excellent example of the precision Norell brought to the cut and construction of his garments.

For my dress, I cut it completely on the bias from silk chiffon, which adds a draping contour to the body without darting. I work on the bias often, as it lends itself to soft feminine shapes. Here’s how it turned out:

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Filed under: Public Programs, Textile & Fashion, The Collection, The Toby


Celebrating Sixties Fashion

What unspoken messages do First Ladies send with fashion? And how did the unforgettable Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy break the mold to present her husband’s candidacy and presidency as progressive and modern?

On September 13, 2012 the IMA’s Fashion Arts Society hosted design historian Sandy McLendon, former contributor and senior editor at Modernism Magazine, for a lecture on the influential “Jackie Look.” McLendon took attendees through a visual tour of Jackie’s strategic choices: hiring Hollywood costume designer Oleg Cassini; embracing the slim sheath dress and fuss-free pillbox hat; and selecting—down to the detail—trim, elegant gowns suitable for superpower diplomacy.

FAS members turned out in their fabulous finery for the event, wearing hats, gloves and fur to celebrate mod sixties fashion.

Even if you couldn’t make it to the event, you can still watch it on ArtBabble or YouTube. I won’t judge you if you break out your pillbox hat for viewing, either.

Filed under: New Media, Public Programs, Textile & Fashion, The Toby, Uncategorized


Back in the Saddle Again: Project IMA

Project IMA: Fashion Unbound, 2010. Winner: Jeremy B. Hunt.

The first IMA organized fashion show, Project IMA, debuted in 2008 on an idea and a shoestring. The idea was simple: engage our community through fashion in order to promote the traveling exhibition, Breaking the Mode: Contemporary Fashion from the Permanent Collection, Los Angeles County Museum of Art. It seemed therefore fitting to draw from the community for participants. Having only moved to Indianapolis six months prior, I scoured the web and attended multiple fashion events to quickly discover, much to my delight, a strong assembly of designers, wearable artists and stylists within the city. As a result, we asked 16 designers to participate in the fashion show. They had four months to visit the exhibition, study the accompanying catalogue and devise a plan for one to two ensembles that “featured outrageous, beautiful, irreverent and glamorous designs.”

Not only were the pieces created interesting, varied, and thought-provoking, but the public’s response was overwhelming. So many people attended the show we had to schedule an impromptu second show for all those who couldn’t make it in the first round. There are even rumors that the amount of traffic flowing into the parking lot actually (temporarily) shut down 38th Street. Not bad, eh?

Project IMA: Fashion Unbound, 2010. Designs by Francis Stallings

So, in 2010, we decided to try it again. Only this time, we used our own exhibition, Body Unbound: Contemporary Couture from the IMA’s Permanent Collection, as the stimulus and opened the call for entries internationally. The response was exuberant.  We had over 50 people submit proposals for inclusion. Of those 50, we selected 40 participants who met the guidelines and, just like that, Project IMA: Fashion Unbound was in full swing.  Two back-to-back shows (having learned from experience) took place in The Toby to enthusiastic crowds. The concepts employed and the quality designs, almost 80 in total, were impressive. There were pieces made from paper, plastic bags and rubber bands while others, confronted, amused and referenced history. After much deliberation, the judges selected a piece by Jeremy B. Hunt as the best of show and awarded him the Elizabeth Kraft-Meek fashion design award. Afterwards, guests, designers, models and crew attended the official Behind the Seams after party, hosted by the newly formed affiliate group, FAS. Here audience members viewed garments up close, lined up for photos by Got Shot, and listened to the music of local pop sweethearts, Beta Male.  All in all, the event was a success.

So, here we go, again…

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Filed under: Public Programs, Textile & Fashion, The Toby, Uncategorized


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