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Geometry, Turning: Athena's Garments

© Copyright Alessandra Kelley

These garments are part of "Second Sights: The Art of Presence", an ongoing project.

"Second Sights" takes inspiration from the classical Greek gods to spur thought and expand our culture's ideas of human beauty and clothing.

These garments offer thoughts about the movement of the human form.

The project blends panel painting, clothing design and construction, and textile painting. Each god addressed in the "Second Sights" project has a painting and an outfit, sometimes more than one.

Athena is the Greek god of wisdom, craft, and intelligent warfare.

The outfit consists of a handsewn painted and sculpted top in two shades of blue cotton jersey depicting the head of the Gorgon Medusa, a reference to the Aegis of Athena, and a pair of deertanned cowhide leather breeches with slashed panes painted with references to Athena and the crafts and understandings she oversees.

A photograph, multiple exposure showing the outfit seven times around a work table doing different things
Five tall narrow photographs of painted leather strips down the breeches; one of olive branches and gemstones in settings; one of caryatid columns; one of tools of art and craft; one of multicolored unset stones; one of natural objects, two feathers, a fernleat, a dragonfly, two spiders; and one of an unlabeled map with a magnifying glass

Handpainted leather breeches.

From left to right the painting shows: Olive branches and gemstones in settings; caryatid columns; assorted tools; multicolored glasslike shapes; natural objects -- feathers, a fern, spiders, and a dragonfly; and a brightly colored unlabeled map of an imaginary world, with a magnifying glass.

The accompanying top is handsewn from two shades of cotten jersey knit and handpainted. It depicts the head of the Gorgon Medusa, with sculpted and painted snakes sewn on twisting around to become shoulder straps. On the front the snakes become orderly and intertwined, like a cuirass of armor.

The lower back of a cotton jersey tank top in two shades of blue, sculpted with wild, curling snakes which wind around to the front and become shoulder straps
A smiling archaic-type caryatid A more severe looking caryatid

The caryatids are based on historic ones, but painted as they would have been originally. The lowest one, on the left, is based on an archaic caryatid from the ancient city of Tralles in Turkey. The next one is based on the caryatids of the Erechtheon on the Acropolis in Athens.

There are a number of illusionistically painted natural objects and creatures on the breeches, such as the lifesized dragonfly, right.

A close-up of a lifesized blue dragonfly painted in flight seen from the side
Part of a painting showing Athena, multi-armed, sitting in and working on the garments in the center of a circle with hyperbolic geometry with spiderwebs vanishing to infinity at the edge, and just a few blue snakes visible at the edge

Click here to see the accompanying painting.

Click here for the project gallery.