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Event Description


September 20 – December 15, 2019

For centuries, people all over the world have enhanced their physical presence to add value to the way they appear and how others perceive them. Every society has cultivated and promoted ideals that define and qualify beauty through clothing, textiles, haircuts, jewelry, body paintings and tattoos. Adornment, however, refers not only to an object and its cultural meaning and relevance, it also encapsulates the entire state of adorning.

This exhibition explores the artist (adorner), the creative process (adorning) and the art (adorned), with a focus on the human form – its presence, stature, functionality, capabilities, expression and dynamism. It also explores how adornment can foster associations and disassociations through symbols of luxury, group affiliations, celebration and festivities, as well as conformance and defiance of authority. Adornment also explores how people choose to define themselves individually or collectively, as well as how they accept or challenge what society ascribes as possessing value.

The Millstone Gallery at COCA is uniquely surrounded by COCA’s performing arts studios with programming that is steeped in adornment every day. Opportunities to highlight the intersection between programs will be scheduled throughout the exhibition to raise awareness of and appreciation for the aesthetics and purpose of human form as both the creators and creations of art.

Adornment is curated by Yvonne Osei, artist and COCA Curator in Residence.