Fashion and fine art: A Q+A with the CMA’s Jackie Adams
We had a great conversation with the Columbia Museum of Art’s Director of Art and Learning about Lee Alexander McQueen, Sergio Hudson, and the relationship between fashion and art.
Two major, fashion-forward exhibitions are coming to the Columbia Museum of Art this fall — “Lee Alexander McQueen & Ann Ray: Rendez-Vous” just opened, and “Sergio Hudson: Focused on the Fit” will debut in November.
We recently got to sit down with Jackie Adams, Director of Art and Learning at the CMA, to discuss these exciting exhibitions, what it was like to bring them to the museum, and what she hopes visitors will take away from the experience.
First, let’s talk about “Rendez-Vous.”
This exhibition was curated by Barrett Barrera Projects, in close collaboration with Ann Ray, the photographer whose work is showcased in conversation with McQueen’s designs. (More on her, and this fascinating friendship, in a moment.)
This is a traveling exhibition, so before it sashayed to the CMA, it was housed at the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento, CA, and will make its way to Nashville this summer. For now, Soda Citizens can experience “Rendez-Vous” right here in our city through January 21, 2024.
“I never thought I would be able to work on an Alexander McQueen exhibition,” says Adams. “Here we are, bringing this globally recognized work to Columbia. It feels so accessible.”
“Rendez-Vous” features 50 garments designed by McQueen and more than 60 photographs taken by Ann Ray, the only photographer permitted exclusive access to document the behind-the-scenes culture of his runway shows. “They met in 1997 when they were both at the House of Givenchy in Paris,” Adams explains. Ray and McQueen “established a really beautiful, close friendship, and over time developed really deep trust with each other. She was allowed unprecedented access behind the scenes and with him in vulnerable moments.”
We asked Adams what she hopes visitors take away from this exhibition, as well as the upcoming Sergio Hudson show.
“I hope visitors walk away with an appreciation of these individuals’ artistic contributions. I want them to walk away with a greater sense of how fashion isn’t just about what you throw on, but how it leads to deeper levels of expression. Maybe they walk out of it thinking, ‘That was totally unexpected.’”
How do you show up in the world?
What do you choose to wear, and how do you choose to wear it? What story are you telling through your clothing?
“That is a fun thing to play with,” says Adams. “People often say when they walk into a museum, ‘Oh, I can’t draw anything. I can’t draw a straight line.’ And, to me, what fashion represents is this connection between life and art, and this space in between that.”
While the McQueen exhibition brings international fashion to Columbia, the Sergio Hudson exhibition will celebrate a local who has become one of the biggest names in the industry. Born in Ridgeway, SC, this budding designer fell in love with fashion at a young age, and his clientele now includes Keke Pamer, Michelle Obama, Serena Williams, Rihanna, Issa Rae, Rachel Brosnahan, and — wait for it — Beyoncé.
Exploring the process
Both exhibitions will feature not only completed garments, but also offer insight into the designers’ creative processes via sketches, illustrations, pattern pieces, and more.
“Let it inspire you,” she encourages visitors. “When you play with your own form of self-expression, it’s a form of empowerment. I hope people can take inspiration from the idea that these two designers did that, but also embrace that for themselves.”
McQueen and Hudson “have really thought about who we are as people, where we’ve been, where we come from, and what our cultural histories mean, and have infused that into their work.”
Ready to be inspired, Cola? Tickets are available for “Lee Alexander McQueen & Ann Ray: Rendez-Vous” now through January 21, 2024 — and “Sergio Hudson: Focused on the Fit” can be experienced from November 18 through June 30, 2024.