Cracking the Dress Code

Brandeis’ Women’s Studies Research Center presents an exhibition about the relationship between clothing and identity

“Dress • Redress”
June 19 – Sept. 25, 2008
Kniznick Gallery, Women's Studies Research Center
Brandeis University

Body Armor
WALTHAM, Mass. (May 9, 2008) – How much truth lies in the phrase, “you are what you wear”?

From Thursday, June 19 through Thursday, Sept. 25, “Dress • Redress” will address how and why our identities are so closely linked to our clothing. The exhibition, presented by the Women’s Studies Research Center (WSRC), will include painting, sculpture, collage, drawing, and installation by eight contemporary American artists.

“There is no denying clothing’s centrality in our lives. We cruise the catwalk, trick or treat, dress up and dress down, dress to kill and follow dress code,” said Lisa Lynch, Exhibition Curator and Director of the Arts and External Relations at the WSRC. “By presenting the myriad ways in which what we wear defines us, the exhibition aims to expand the dialogue about the formative and expressive nature of clothing for the individual and society.” 

Exhibiting artists include Aparna Agrawal, Candice Smith Corby, Maryjean Viano Crowe, Carol Hamoy, Sandra Eula Lee, Esther Solondz, Andrew Thompson, and Leslie Wilcox. Through subthemes as varied as religion, memory, gender roles, popular media, and environmental awareness, each artist uses clothing as medium, subject, or theme to challenge us to rethink clothing’s significance.

Some of the artworks in “Dress • Redress” are worn, and others are unwearable; some are a stand-in for the human body or human experience, and others invoke childhood dreams or fears, but all address clothing’s capability to conceal or reveal identity.

For example, Aparna Agrawal manipulates babies’ onesies to represent our need to create conceptual shields of armor. Each tiny garment wears its own protection, from a hardened exterior, to a sharp shield of shells, to a symbolically powerful pattern. Artist Sandra Eula Lee culls identity from what we discard and what we wear. In her sculptures, paper, plastic bags and other refuse breathe new life as replicas of her clothing.  And Andrew Thompson’s Clothes Document is an interactive project that will reach completion after the exhibition’s opening reception. Thompson begins with a new set of clothing; after wearing each piece, he embroiders it with the date. The resulting garment displays the clothing’s history and represents the connection between clothing, memory and identity.

“Dress • Redress” is the WSRC’s first exhibition to utilize the university’s indoor and outdoor spaces. Work by all artists will be on view in the center’s library, salon, and Kniznick Gallery, and Leslie Wilcox’ sculpture will be exhibited on the grounds outside of the WSRC and The Rose Art Museum.

An illustrated, color catalogue accompanies the exhibition.

High-resolution images and a list of the works in the exhibition are available upon request.

Opening Reception & Artist Talks
Thursday, June 19, 5 – 6:30 p.m.
Women's Studies Research Center

(Un)Dressing Religion, Clothing, and Identity
Thursday, Sept. 18, 12:30 – 2:00 p.m.
Liberman Miller Lecture Hall, Women’s Studies Research Center
Panel Discussion in conjunction with Dress•Redress. Participants will include Eric Silverman, Visiting Research Associate, WSRC; and Lisa Fishbayn, Visiting Research Associate, WSRC

Afternoon Art

Friday, Sept. 19, 3 – 4:30 p.m.
Women’s Studies Research Center
Tour of Dress•Redress with exhibition curator Lisa Lynch, followed by refreshments.

Closing Reception
Thursday, Sept. 25, 5 – 6:30 p.m.
Women’s Studies Research Center
Followed by the Rose Art Museum’s fall opening reception

For additional information about the exhibition and related events, visit

Kniznick Gallery Hours and Location:

Monday - Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Weekends by appointment, call 781-736-8102
Women’s Studies Research Center, Brandeis University
515 South St., Waltham, Mass. (across from Brandeis/Roberts commuter rail stop)

*Photo credit

Aparna Agrawal
/Body Armor, Nutshell/, 2000
Cloth, plaster, beeswax, pigment, 18 x 15 x 5”
Collection of the Artist

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