It’s no secret that women in the arts (as in most other fields) have long suffered lower status and less visibility than their male peers, regardless of talent. Times may be changing, but support and exposure can still be rare commodities for struggling female artists. Enter Girlee Detroit
, a collective of women dedicated to furthering the careers of local female artists, from photographers to fashion designers. Girlee, which celebrated its first anniversary this summer, is the brainchild of founding member Sarah Lapinski. Encouraged by the New York art scene’s Gorilla Girls, Lapinski’s aim was to create a support network for women artists that would provide opportunities for exposure, resource access and networking, as well as community outreach. Not that Girlee is all work and no play. This Saturday, Aug. 5, the collective is hosting a fashion show that promises to pull out all the entertainment stops. In addition to runway fashion modeling, the event will feature performances by DJs and spoken-word artists (all women, of course). According to one member, there will even be a naked girl thrown in for good measure. Among the seven artists featured are several clothing designers as well as found-object artists and a metalsmith. More than 20 pieces will be displayed. Joanna Komajda, a metalsmith and ceramic artist, is normally known for her tile work and jewelry design, but will show several fetish-inspired “fashion” items, including a piece sculpted from a dress form, brass clips and an iron corset, with stainless steel mesh thigh-highs that “feel like silk.” Laura Rockwood, a Livonia-based designer and Wayne State University
fashion grad, creates looks inspired by historical dress and old movies. Among her four featured pieces will be a gorgeous ‘30s-esque taffeta gown with purple ruffles. “I always have a historical idea in mind and add my own accents,” Rockwood says. Also participating is Ruth Johnson, who will be showing a range of dresses with slinky, glamorous appeal. Johnson describes her style as “trashy glamour ... I really like that destroyed, deconstructed look.” Girlee holds regular meetings twice a month, every second Tuesday at the Scarab Club
at 8:30 p.m. and the last Sunday of the month at the Majestic Cafe
at 6:30 p.m. Membership is open to any woman interested, even those who are not practicing artists. Currently, the collective boasts about 90 members with such diverse backgrounds as social work, hairdressing, photography, writing, painting, neon design, computer artistry, wood sculpting, illustration, dance and more. The show (admission is free, by the way) begins at 8:30 p.m. on Saturday at detroit contemporary
(5141 Rosa Parks, 313-898-4ART).
Christina Kallery is a freelance writer for Metro Times. E-mail [email protected]