Dear Ms. True,
I am writing in response to Liz Armstrong’s article “Let’s Get Lost” [Chicago Antisocial, April 28]. I found Ms. Armstrong’s personal opinions posing as a review of the Artist vs. Artisan Re-Fashion Show to be distasteful and unfounded. The Artist vs. Artisan project has unmatchable merit in its field, and the concept was delivered in a thought-provoking and conscientious manner that undoubtedly expanded awareness and inspired deeper exploration of the relationships between DIY artists and fair-trade artisan-garment producers.
I made the trip from New England to Chicago specifically to participate in the event at great expense because of my great respect for the project. I especially resent Ms. Armstrong’s slanted and skewed remark “Images projected at the head of the runway were of hipsters partying and Indian women toiling with needle and thread or painting pots.” Even if I were one of those scenesters, accepting there is a huge cultural difference between young, privileged, partying hipsters and impoverished, third world artisans, I think there should be a medium in which to create relationships by embracing our differences, recognizing our likeness, and equating those as best we can. But in actuality I am not a partying hipster. I am a struggling single mother, part of a garment-making collective that consists of other hard up moms and young women. I know firsthand that many of those images involved my collective, crafting our submissions for the show and working hard to subsist with our sewing skills to support socially and environmentally responsible practices as well as our own families and livelihood.
So you can imagine how offended I was to read her mean-spirited critique–“The models were dressed with a kind of Aunt Jemima Goes to Burning Man eclecticism. When it worked it sort of looked like Marni, but more often than not it came off as boring urban-tribal bullshit”–when we worked hard and honestly parallel to the fair-trade producers in India to create those beautiful and original garments that materialized the relationship and bond we feel with women garment producers throughout the world. Those pieces had more meaning than a shallow fashion aesthetic, and I wish that Ms. Armstrong had the eyes to look deeper into what we had created: a relational aesthetic that could be confused as “romanticism” to those who participated in the show only on the shallowest level. I am offended that this article invalidated the labor and love that was invested by the artisans, artists, photographers, models, organizers, musicians, and support crew that made the event possible. But mostly I am disheartened that readers who hadn’t the opportunity to attend were spoon-fed a narrow-minded perspective that doesn’t give them the freedom to explore the concept for themselves. If you read this article and had your mind made up for you, I encourage you to visit www.artistvsartisan.com to form your own opinions.