It's March 15th and it's freezing. Winter Storm Stella missed us in terms of snow accumulation, but left her cold sting nonetheless. I roll into Lawrenceville warmed by my father's Airforce jacket. It provides the kind of warmth Hugh Glass from The Revenant felt within that horse... I will stop there, you get it, I was warm. I walk into a luminescent space greeted by Atticus Adams, his husband Gary Pyles and their niece Elli. I am here because Atticus is one of the ten artists selected to show at the Material Worlds Fashion Show hosted by the Carnegie Museum of Art [CMOA] this Friday, March 24th at The Ace Hotel Pittsburgh.
This runway event was born from the fashion design exhibition, Iris van Herpen: Transforming Fashion, rockin' at the CMOA until the first of May. Seven years of van Herpen's original haute couture is on display. Seven years-worth, people! Iris is a true innovator. Her vision is beyond this world. Handcrafting pieces through technological solutions with precision and patience, van Herpen brings a bold visionary experience. Her couture pieces consistently ring "modern" though she has been presenting shows for ten years. Most recently, Solange Knowles rocked van Herpen to the Grammy's solidifying her reign as one of my favorite you-make-me-drool-over-how-good-your-style-is style icons. Add this exhibit on your "cool things to do in Pittsburgh list." And, before you visit, find out just which van Herpen look you are.
Atticus Adams, a Pittsburgh-based sculptor, was long connected to van Herpen prior to this exhibit hitting the 'burgh. Friends of Atticus would send links of van Herpen's work coupling his talent to hers. In poetic fashion, this connection came full circle when selected to show two looks in the Material Worlds Fashion Show, a show inspired by van Herpen where high fashion will stand side-by-side with high tech. The initial response to this unique opportunity was one of pure, childlike excitement because Atticus never saw himself creating wearable pieces. A wave of nervousness did follow. "It is one thing to draw a rendering," said Atticus and a whole new ballgame to bring it to life for someone to wear. Downloading a croquis (pronounced 'croaky') template, which is a sketch of a live model (and yes, I had to look the official name up), he went to work.
Atticus manipulates industrial materials, metal mesh, aluminum, copper, bronze, etc., to create uplifting, intricate moments. You may recognize his work from Installations, such as “Flora Contempo” completed at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort, to curated shows, such as "An Appalachian in Paris" shown at the Borelli-Edwards Galleries. His work may appear effortless; but make no mistake, his process is meticulous. Go-to tools include an old chair leg (his first tool), a smoothed rock and, most importantly, his hands.
I will say besides just saying "hello," Atticus had me with this statement, "There is an element of memory in my work." He dives into the significance of memories in a video on his website, but this key inspiration was brought to life when visiting his studio. This incandescent space is a "sanctuary" and a "type of journal" (sigh, we are soul mates, Atticus). Though memory fuels his creations, Atticus still wants the viewer to extract his or her own emotion, "All artists want their work to be compelling without knowing the backstory," Being immersed in his work, compelling is an understatement
The Material Worlds Fashion Show is in for a treat. Having the pleasure of a sneak peek, Mr. Adams' designs will not disappoint. The runway, as described by Atticus, is truly a "moment in time." His pieces are not established on a gallery wall for folks to view, but presented in motion, a first for the artist. A "kinetic element" will be at play as his niece Elli and Johnathan, a dancer at Pittsburgh Ballet Theater graduate school, reveal the pieces on the runway. Working on wearable pieces has opened his process to a type of collaboration with Elli and Johnathan. It has challenged him to look beyond the 360 degree view and thoughtfully curate from the inside out.
I am blown away by Atticus. There is purity when describing his process and work. His art comes from a positive space translating into magnetic presentations. You can't help but come back time and time again. I entered his studio as a blogger and left a hardcore fan girl proud of what he is gifting to the Pittsburgh art scene.
** As this post went live, the Material Worlds Fashion Show is sold out. Thank goodness for Instagram Stories, am I right?! Follow along @wavyalabaster and event hashtag #transformingfashion to see Atticus' and the other selected artists looks!
Thank you to Atticus, Gary, Elli and Congo for the warm hospitality + Atticus for sharing his beautiful journal of work.
Carnegie Museum of Art, you rock.