If it were not for Jann Haworth, MAE WEST would not have been on a Beatles album cover. The Fab Four chose no women but the clever American-born designer selected a few notable females. Now the artist-seamstress-sculptress is back in the spotlight in Salt Lake City.
• • Julie Checkoway interviewed the "Mom of Pop Culture" for The Salt Lake Tribune recently.
• • Julie Checkoway writes: Jann Haworth might be uncomfortable with critics using the term "domestic" to describe her art, yet gender is undoubtedly a key force in her aesthetic.
• • In a coffeehouse in downtown Salt Lake City, the artist recalls the moment when she first realized how to make her way " 'round the boys' club." After all, she said, "I knew I couldn't go through it."
• • One day in 1962, Haworth was in London "riding the No. 33 bus past Harrods" when she spotted in the window a sleeveless, ruffle-collared pink dress made of artificial silk.
• • "It was arch-feminine," she says now with a laugh over a cup of cappuccino. The dress was made of something Haworth, an excellent seamstress, knew more about than any male artist of her acquaintance: fabric. And in spying it, Haworth saw her artistic life unroll before her like yardage off an enormous colorful bolt of cloth.
• • Right then, she says, "I just knew what I was going to do next and next and next and next."
• • Soft sculpture: Next was an entirely new genre of art work termed "soft sculpture," three-dimensional pieces composed not of bronze or steel but of thread, cotton, wool, fur, and even vinyl.
• • Haworth, who had been raised in Hollywood, was inspired by the pop-culture icons of her youth. She sewed cloth doughnuts covered with fur, teacups of cotton and life-size stuffed figures of Mae West, Shirley Temple, and W.C. Fields.
• • Most significant, she flew in the face of traditional images of femininity by choosing as her signature piece an old woman slumped in a rocking chair, knees covered with an afghan — — a figure that would recur in her work throughout her life. ...
• • "POP PLASTIQUES" will be exhibited in the fourth-floor gallery of the Main Library, 210 E. 400 South, Salt Lake City, from Saturday to July 26. Jann Haworth will be the library's artist-in- residence June 16-20, and will hold workshops on June 17, 19 and 21 for 9- to 15-year-old artists. Info: 801-524-8200.
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• • Byline: Julie Checkoway
• • Published in: The Salt Lake Tribune
• • Published on: 31 May 2008
• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
• • Photo: • • Mae West • • none • •