Ralph Lauren once said, “Fashion is about something that comes from within you.” This month’s Inside-Out gallery embraces that mantra featuring a retrospective of A.C. Kemp’s eighteen years of costumes for the annual Somerville ArtBeat festival. Each year since 2000, our local fashionista, dons a new garment to go with that year’s theme— such as an art bee for “ArtBeast,” a costume covered in Monarch butterflies for “Migration” and a Marie Antoinette-style dress decorated with fabric beets and carrots for “Roots,” among many others. Every creation is a walking piece of wearable art. In this exhibit, AC brings her imagination to life to showcases some of her beloved favorites in a series of whimsical vignettes. Each piece is suspended in their own fantasy setting, surrounded by fiber art props specially-made for this installation.
About the Artist
Among A.C. Kemp’s first sewing projects were elaborate Elizabethan costumes which she made by hand for her dolls. Taught by her mother, an art teacher and accomplished seamstress, she began making her own clothes in elementary school. In high school and college, she began to make costumes for local theater productions in her hometown of Jackson, Michigan. After moving to Somerville in 1989, a class in pattern-making at the Cambridge Center for Adult education helped her to realize increasingly complex original designs.
Although a busy schedule as a full-time lecturer in English Language Studies at MIT keeps her from sewing everyday clothes as often as she’d like, volunteering for the ArtBeat festival every year has given A.C. an opportunity to take on wildly ambitious costume projects. “July is the perfect time to indulge in a week-long creative binge,” she says. “The festival comes after spring semester has wound down, but well before I have to be ready for fall.” Although some of the fun of the costumes is their ephemeral quality— they are normally only seen on the day of ArtBeat—this show has given her the chance to show them to a larger audience in life-size fiber art scenes. A.C. is already looking forward to Artbeat 2018.
About the Inside-Out Gallery
Initiated in 2009, The Inside-Out Gallery is located in the CVS Window in Davis Square, a unique space that allows the public to view an eclectic array of works from artists and local organizations each month. The mission of the Somerville Arts Council is to cultivate and celebrate the creative expressions of the Somerville community. Through innovative collaborations and quality programming we work to make the arts an integral part of life reflective of our diverse city.