Philosophy and Art Departments Join Forces For Fashion Exhibit


Courtesy of Penji

Evan Shiebler, Staff Writer

Next semester, William Paterson’s philosophy and art departments will team up to present an exhibition on how fashion is used as an art form. The show will feature art by Lisa Anne Auerbach, Orland, Yelaine Rodriguez, Cindy Sherman, Jean Shin and Andrea Zittel.

Laura Di Summa-Knoop, a philosophy professor at William Paterson, will be working very closely with the project. It lines up with her interests in fashion and identity. She said that her goals are to integrate the arts into intellectual conversations with fellow academics, professors and students to help bridge the gap between the creative and the intellectual.

The themes of the exhibit will highlight the connection between fashion, race and gender, and showcase how that forms personal and collective identity. The artwork that will be displayed also examines the subject of the human body and the relationship fashion shares with it. Experimentation, masks and playing with one’s identity are other topics that will be explored. 

William Paterson will collaborate with the Einstein Foundation, which is based in Berlin, to conduct a study of all of the upcoming events. Founded in 2009, the Einstein Foundation focuses on combining philosophical, psychological and neuroscientific methods to address what aesthetic is and the influence it has on culture.

The exhibition will also give students insight into the influence fashion has on a person’s opinions of different issues, such as morality, politics and food preferences.

Di Summa-Knoop released the following statement on what some goals are of the project and what can be expected:

“To foster dialogue with exhibit visitors, we will also present artist talks, workshops, panel discussions, and a pop-up exhibit. Select exhibiting artists will provide public lectures about their artwork. Two hands-on workshops led by artists will enable the public to mend, alter, and repurpose clothing, which will then be displayed in a pop-up exhibit. A panel discussion with emerging fashion designers will discuss new trends in the industry. A further interdisciplinary panel will discuss the survey results and the implications on our perceptions of personal identity and the body.”

Exhibit visitors, students or otherwise, will be encouraged to complete a survey about their own personal fashion choices. Both the philosophy and art departments want this project to engage students on campus and foster further discussions on art and life.  

Going further, all members involved with the project hope to show the importance of fashion as an art and a way of being. They hope to encourage people from philosophical, artistic and academic backgrounds to be more involved and aware of the impacts of fashion as artistic expression.