Twiggs Gallery celebrates women with exhibit of art made from undergarments

  • Twiggs Gallery Manager Laura Morrison with some of the items for the “Busting Out: Powerful Women,” exhibit that opened Saturday at Twiggs Gallery in Boscawen. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • 'Women at Work' at the “Busting Out: Powerful Women,”€ an exhibit that opened Saturday at Twiggs Gallery in Boscawen. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Twiggs Gallery Manager Laura Morrison with some of the items for the “Busting Out: Powerful Women,” exhibit that opened Saturday at Twiggs Gallery in Boscawen. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • “Women at Work” at the “Busting Out: Powerful Women,” an exhibit that opened Saturday at Twiggs Gallery in Boscawen. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • Twiggs Gallery Manager Laura Morrison puts a label on the “A-Luring Bra” for the “Busting Out: Powerful Women,” exhibit that opened Saturday at Twiggs Gallery in Boscawen. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 4/5/2019 4:19:15 PM

Decades ago, feminists were burning bras. Now, they’re making them into art.

That’s the concept behind “Busting Out: Powerful Women,” an exhibit that opened Saturday at Twiggs Gallery in Boscawen.

Artists were asked to use bras, corsets or bustiers as their canvas to create an original piece, said Gallery Manager Laura Morrison. Some took a humorous approach, like Donna Catanzaro’s “A-Luring Bra” which is decorated with hooks and a fishing net.

Others dedicated their bras to feminist leaders and icons like Gloria Steinem and Madonna, or used them to tackle issues like body image and the environment.

“Traditionally, bras needed either to be hidden or they are meant to be objects of objectification,” Morrison said. “This show is all about coming out of the shadows and saying, ‘These are our voices and we’re not shy. We’re going to put these on a wall whether you like it or not.’ ”

Morrison said there were 35 submissions to the show, which will run at Twiggs through May 5. The impetus for the exhibit is a celebration of the end of women’s history month, which is in March. One-quarter of the funds from artwork sales will go to Women’s Caucus for Art/New Hampshire Edith Weiler Scholarship Fund, Morrison said.

“The focus is positive imagery for women,” she said. “It’s meant to send a message: ‘We want to show our power instead of our limitations.’ ”

Morrison said it was interesting to see how each artist interpreted the prompt in a unique way.

Artist Gail Smuda of Concord created two pieces herself and collaborated with Twiggs owner Adele Sanborn to make a third. The first is called “Double Van Gogh,” and it’s inspired by the artist’s paintings, featuring different landscapes stitched on each cup of a white linen bra.

“I looked at this bra and the image of a Van Gogh painting came to mind,” she said. “It was just an immediate inspiration for me.”

Smuda’s other bra is called “Madonna Ages,” which she described as a softer version of some of the pointed bras Madonna once wore. The third, a collaboration with Sanborn, features two books in each cup of the bra that are spilling out with pages. The pages are filled with quotes about bras or breasts from literature, Smuda said.

Artist Kimberly Smith is a teacher and said she often makes mandalas with her students. She was inspired to follow that concept when creating her piece.

“I think of mandalas as something you see all around the world and focus your mind. It helps if you are stressed and interested in taking a minute to be relaxed,” she said. “I think mandalas are very meditative – For the bra project, I just thought, “That will be different.”

Smith said she likes working with recycled materials when she makes art, and that this project was a perfect opportunity for that. She took five bras, one from her closet, two she found on eBay and two she bought at Goodwill and the Salvation Army and laid them over each other in a collage of beads string and mandala images.

Smuda said she hopes that “Busting Out” changes visitors’ perception of what art can look like.

“I hope this exhibit will show that art can be fun – sometimes I think people go to a museum and they get intimidated,” she said. “People think, this piece is in a museum, therefore, it’s important and you can’t laugh at it. I hope people can see you can play with something. It’s okay – sometimes it’s fun.”

Smuda said she also expects the exhibit will attract people who don’t frequently visit galleries.

“I can’t tell you the number of people I’ve heard talking about this who have never gone to museums and or never gone to galleries and thought, ‘That’s great – I cant wait to go to that,’ ” she said.

Morrison said they are hoping that people will visit Twiggs and leave with something to talk about.

“I think it’s going to spark a lot of conversation, which is the whole point of art,” she said.




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