6abc Loves the Arts: 'Art to Wear' exhibit puts art on the human body

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The Philadelphia Museum of Art has an exhibition taking art off the wall, and putting it on the human body.

The exhibition is titled Off the Wall: American Art to Wear, and it's a showcase of 115 works created by more than 60 artists.

"I was blown away by this work," says Julie Schafler Dale. "And I wanted it to be seen by the world."

Schafler Dale is the lifelong collector who donated most of the pieces on exhibition after decades showing them at her Madison Avenue Julie Artisans Gallery in New York City.

"She was one of the prime movers in promoting art to wear and you know, sold to many celebrities," says Dilys Blum, Senior Curator of Costume and Textiles at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

The art to wear movement was a sign of the changing times in the mid to late 1960s

"It was a time of great upheaval, both socially and culturally and especially in academia," Blum says. "Students were encouraged to just use their imagination."

The young artists -- many students at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn -- experimented with every textile and every technique imaginable.

"Embroidery, machine knitting, crochet," Blum says, to name a few.

"The techniques are age-old, but what these artists have done with them is innovative," Schafler Dale says.

All of the pieces have actually been worn by their owners or makers.

"All of the pieces here are unique works; they were not made as multiples for sale," Blum says.

The exhibition is divided into nine sections, from the 1960s to the 1990s, with each taking its cue from a song from that era.

"People need to understand because it's wearable, it's not fashion. Because it's handmade. It's not just craft," Schafler Dale says, emphasizing the importance of viewing the works as an art form, "and something new."

"We're coming off the wall as three dimensional sculptural objects," Blum says.

Off the Wall: American Art to Wear | Facebook
Philadelphia Museum of Art Perelman Building
Through May 17
2525 Pennsylvania Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19130
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