the beautiful side of decay

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It’s Art of Horror time again! It’s a juried show featuring works that “represent the beautiful side of decay, the finer points of blood letting, and that special something inside a depraved mind.” Last year Josh’s work was exhibited, and this year mine was! I dressed in my spookiest finery for the opening on Friday night, saw some bloody burlesque and a simulated human sacrifice, and gorged on eyeball cake pops. In other words: I was home.

The pieces will hang until October 25th. In the meantime, take a look at my favorite works. Mine is not among them because I stupidly forgot to photograph it. But you’ve seen it on the blog before: it was this photo!

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strange doll

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Josh’s work is currently being exhibited in a show called Art of Horror. We attended the opening last Friday night. Of the event, I will say that 1) it was very nice not to be the only person wearing a cloak, 2) THERE WERE FINGER-SHAPED COOKIES, and 3) after oohing and aahing over Josh’s piece, I spent most of my time browsing the room devoted to Beth Robinson’s Strange Dolls.

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Beth Robinson might be my favorite local artist. Her work is one hell of a spice in my glitzy, gothy glop of inspiration stew. Today I took advantage of the abandoned shed in Josh’s backyard and delivered my own rendition of a Strange, Strange Doll.

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I really like the visual mindfuck of a broken old doll wearing an antique cameo. It suggests a matryoshka quality, an infinite recursion of uncanny-valley porcelain skin. If the miniature human has her own miniature human, how far can it go?

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I considered whitening my neck and hands too, but I think I prefer the look isolated to my face. I would much rather stylize a costume than precisely duplicate its source material. I like the allusive and the heavily symbolic. My whole body needn’t be stark white, as long as the parts I do whiten clearly scream “creepy-ass doll”. The cracks needn’t be photorealistic, as long as it’s clear what they’re supposed to be.

Often, though, I wonder whether my takes on classics are too subtle. Too lacking in obvious, translatable tropes. As a costume designer, I think way more obsessively about clothes than most people do. And I want to make sure I’m designing for the more casual onlooker as well as for Srs Fashion Ppl. That’s the challenge I have in designing for the Haunted Forest. Each scene is only three or four minutes long. Any exposition time is precious stuff and will sure as hell not be spent examining the costumes. My task is to rustle up clever, innovative costumes that don’t require more than a cursory glance to understand. And I think I’m doing all right, but only opening night will tell.

(I’mma take this opportunity to plug the Haunted Forest. We run at the Catamount Center in Williston, VT, from the 25th to the 27th. This year’s theme is Olde England – prostitutes, plague doctors, and all.)

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Jumper: Battery Street Jeans Blouse: Downtown Threads Necklace: Vintage Marketplace Bow: Spirit Halloween Tights & Shoes: Gifted

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