The Art of Wearing Works of Art

From Japanese kimono silks to Navajo jewelry, Smithsonian’s 2022 Craft2Wear brings shoppers into a world of wearable craft and design

This year's Craft2Wear Show features over 60 premier jewelry, leather and wearables artisans from across the country. Photo illustration by Emily Lankiewicz, images courtesy of Smithsonian Craft2Wear

For collectors and shoppers who dare wear works of art, the lines between clothing and accessories and alluring paintings and sculptures are blurred. The human form becomes a canvas that individuals can adorn in wearable crafts and designs.

From bright-colored baby blankets to jewelry made from recycled newspaper, this year’s Craft2Wear sale and benefit, features over 60 premier jewelry, leather and wearables artisans from across the country.

The Art of Wearing Works of Art
Yoshiko Komatsu clothing Smithsonian Craft2Wear

The Smithsonian’s Craft2Wear Show will be held in Washington D.C.’s National Building Museum from October 20 to 22, 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., transforming the building into a one-stop shop for the finest in American contemporary wearable craft and design. A preview benefit takes place October 20 from 6 to 9 p.m., providing attendees early access to shop from the many wares of this year’s featured crafts.

This year’s show will honor the late Judy Lynn Prince, a Smithsonian Women’s Committee member, who founded the Craft2Wear Show. The Sultan Qaboos Cultural Center at the Embassy of the Sultanate of Oman will partner with the Smithsonian Women's Committee for the 2022 Craft2Wear Show and the exhibit includes various Omani fashion and jewelry items.

Meet some of this year’s exhibitors:

Yoshiko Komatsu

Yoshiko Komatsu is a Japanese artist and designer set to exhibit clothing from her collection at Craft2Wear. The collection utilizes Antique Japanese Kimono fabrics and connects the past with the present, rebirthing the materials through contemporary design.

Each unique piece focuses on an Origami concept, employing the natural drape and patterns of the fabric to complement the female form while allowing for both formal and casual wear. In order to not waste these rare fabrics, Komatsu uses leftover materials for patchwork, quilting, weaving and knitting.

“Repurposing antique silk fabric is ecologically sound and sustainable,” Komatsu says. “The lifespan of the finest silk fabrics can be upwards of a few hundred years.”

Nanibaa Beck

The Art of Wearing Works of Art
Nanibaa Beck jewelry Smithsonian Craft2Wear

Nanibaa Beck is a second generation Diné, or Navajo, jeweler of Beck Studio, a multigenerational jewelry studio.

At 13 years old, Beck became an assistant to her father, Victor Beck, Sr., and learned foundational silversmith skills from him as well as her mother, Eleanor Beck, who worked as a professional jewelry artisan. Nanibaa Beck’s ties to the process of creating jewelry inspired her to develop a deeper understanding of the intricacies of Native American art.

“I believe that by way of my hands I instill cultural knowledge of being Diné (Navajo),” Beck says. “My style is personal and characteristic of my culture, but also very indicative of me, as an individual, of my culture.”

Alicia Appleton

The Art of Wearing Works of Art
Alicia Appleton accessories Smithsonian Craft2Wear

Alicia Appleton is a corporate fashion designer and the founder of Amber Poitier Inc., a leather accessories company founded in 2015 in New York. Appleton strives to empower women through her jewelry and fashion accessories.

The architectural lines and organic shapes of her designs are inspired by her life in New York City as well as her Caribbean heritage.

“My paternal grandfather was a farmer, who taught me to respect nature and my maternal grandfather was an architect,” Appleton says. “The influence of their passion is the foundation of my art.”

Holly Anne Mitchell

The Art of Wearing Works of Art
Holly Anne Mitchell jewelry Smithsonian Craft2Wear

Holly Anne Mitchell is an eco-friendly artist who will be showcasing jewelry made from recycled newspaper at the event. Mitchell began exploring newspapers as an artistic medium while taking a metalsmithing class at the University of Michigan in 1990. She was given an assignment to create a piece of jewelry out of non-traditional materials, and she chose newspaper.

Since then, she has continued to push the bounds of newspapers’ color, text and content, utilizing the various fonts of major newspapers like The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal to create rich textural patterns.

“I strive to bring out these aesthetic strengths to create jewelry which is equally interesting both on and off the body,” Mitchell says. “I truly believe the ordinary (such as newspaper) can be extraordinary.”

Bumbershoots by Nana

The Art of Wearing Works of Art
Bumbershoots clothing Smithsonian Craft2Wear

Bumbershoots by Nana, a business that handcrafts wearable art for infants and toddlers, will display clothing at Craft2Wear. Founded by artist Judith Carr, Bumbershoots by Nana seeks to create high-quality sleep sacks that are parent-friendly and functional.

Known as “Bumbers,” Carr designed the wearable blankets to focus on child development and safety while combining various colors and textures to produce a visually captivating experience.

“The daughter of an immensely talented tailor, I learned to sew early on—designing and sewing hundreds of costumes to pay for ballet,” Carr says. “After a long career as a corporate executive, the birth of my grandson brought me full circle.”

Proceeds from the Smithsonian Craft Show held in the spring and the fall Craft2Wear show, produced by the volunteers of the Smithsonian Women’s Committee, support annual grants to Smithsonian researchers, educators and other specialists. Since 1966, the group has awarded more than $13 million in grants and endowments. The 2022 Craft2Wear exhibitors can be viewed in advance of the October 20 to 22 event. Tickets are available now.

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