Designer Ariel Adkins transforms masterpieces into wearable works of art. Her project Artfully Awear features handmade garments inspired by paintings, sculptures, installations, artists, and other individuals.
Artfully Awear originally began as a way for Adkins to manage the grief of losing her mother. “When [my mother] passed away shortly after I graduated, I struggled to find my voice as a creative,” she tells My Modern Met. “Around that time, I began exploring using old clothing as a medium, turning garments into works of art to represent the joy that can be created by revisiting things we already own.” As she continued to create clothing, the project evolved into a way of “highlighting other artists or individuals in unique garments that express their inspiration or personal history.”
From abstract paintings by Hilma af Klint to the polka-dotted pumpkins of Yayoi Kusama, Adkins' avant-garde outfits embody a range of art styles. In addition to their appearance, the making of each unique piece can vary depending on the source of inspiration. “Sometimes, I'm inspired by an individual who has a unique connection to a work of art (for example, Chet Gold, a security guard at the Museum of Modern Art who loves Claude Monet's Waterlilies),” she explains. “Other times, I'm inspired by a work I encounter in a museum or gallery, or an artist I meet whose process or background is particularly interesting to me.”
Comfort and beauty go hand-in-hand in Artfully Awear, which aims to provide fashion statements that look and feel good. All of Adkins' artistic garments are hand-painted with textile pigments and set with heat—meaning they can be safely washed. After each piece is completed, it is staged next to its original source of inspiration, celebrating creativity in both forms. “I aim to learn something new with each project, whether exploring a different technique, investigating an artistic movement, or developing a personal relationship with an individual and sharing their story,” Adkins adds.