I love the word “garment.” Its roots mean to provide, cover, adorn.
“The body is a sacred garment. It’s your first and your last garment…and it should be treated with honor, and with joy and with fear as well. But always, though, with blessing.” ~ Martha Graham
Karen LaMonte is an artist who explores the relationship between body and garment, space and spirit, identity and the infinity we try – and fail – to clothe.
My family and I recently visited the Hunter Museum: an exhibit called Embodied Beauty.
The paradox, of course, is clear the moment you encounter LaMonte’s bodiless kimonos, empty yet filled with female form.
The lushness of the fabric belies its true nature: iron, glass, ceramic, bronze.
She kneels, reaching without hands, speaking without a mouth.
She is everywoman and no-woman.
An ideal form? Or an annihilation of life?
For the more we starve and cinch, pin and pluck, hide our flaws to conform to a distorted norm or a fake airbrushed image…the less I AM and the less WE ARE. Our humanness is reduced, denied, erased, and yet…
Look closely at LaMonte’s statues. Form fades into wave. Absence dissolves into shadow and shine, texture and flow.
I see deserts and cloud palaces. Lava and blood and veins of gold.
I see the embodied beauty that, at first, I missed. It’s there, in the eyes of the artist, who sees us, even when we feel invisible. Even when we struggle to exist.
Photos & text (c) AE Lefton
With appreciation to Karen LaMonte: www.karenlamonte.com