Monday, November 14, 2011


(Reclining Dress Impression with Drapery, Karen LaMonte, 2006, Hunter Museum of Art, Chattanooga, TN)

I can't stand it another minute.

I've got to write about Karen LaMonte's dazzling glass gown in the Hunter Museum of Art in Chattanooga.

This is, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful sculptures ever created.

As I usually do, I decide to check out the wall plate at the Hunter so I can glean more knowledge about this stunning work of art.

As it turns out, Ms. LaMonte is a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design.

If that doesn't scream major "creds" I don't know what does.

After she left Rhode Island, Karen moved to Prague with a handy-dandy Fullbright Scholarship in her hot little hands.

It goes without saying that this girl is off the charts with smarts and skills!

While hanging out in Prague, Karen got busy investigating Czech glass casting traditions.


it glows.




It reflects light like nobody's business.

What a glorious medium for an artist to work with!

Allow me to say right here and now that Karen's sculptures are life-size

She's not into tiny.

That's another thing I like about her work.

You don't have to carry around a magnifying glass in order to see her work.

How does Karen create her fabulous frocks?

I checked out a second dress and a second wall plate at the Toledo Museum of Art in Ohio and latched on to some further details.

First, she forms a wax casting of a woman's body.

Then she dresses the wax casting in an evening gown.

Next, she makes another mold of this fully clothed "body."

And then she casts the whole thing into glass.

Finally, the glass is sandblasted and acid-polished.

By now, the waxy woman's body is long gone.

But it's definitely not forgotten

The "inner cavity" retains the image of the imprint of the body even though there is no actual body present.

And that's exactly why Karen's sculptures are so drop-dead gorgeous.

You get the feeling that you are looking at a gowned body.

But you are not.

You are looking at a gown as if it were clinging to a body.

And what a gown it is!

It's chock full of gathers, folds and pleats.

Just look at that cascading drapery!

It crunches, it smooshes, it crinkles.

Always in just the right places.

It fits our body-less woman like a glove.

And it does all of these things while glowing with a delicate frosty shimmer.

My stars!

This is beauty at its best.

According to my Hunter information, LaMonte enjoys "exploring the dress form as a metaphor for gender, identity and the human body."

Facts from the Toledo Museum of Art take us a step further:

"For LaMonte,  the "empty" dress evokes the fragility of the human condition.  Further, it references the idea of clothing as a kind of controlling container.  It projects ideals of appearance and wealth promoted by high fashion, while questioning the psychological and social implications of the way we dress."

Well, I'll be.

Isabella d'Este and I thought it was just a beautiful dress!

That's another thing I love about artists.

They try to teach us something about ourselves and our very human condition.

And that can often lead to surprising "A-ha" moments.

Still, there are days when I simply want to enjoy the gorgeous-ness of it all.

I want eye candy.

Karen's gowns are feasts for my feminine soul.

And you know what?

There are days when that's just what the doctor ordered.


For more photos of Karen's magnificent gowns, go to:

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