Death Climb to Serenity: Tepoztlán, Morelos

I visited the Mexican hillside community of Tepoztlán. Located in the state of Morelos the town is about an hour and a half from Mexico City. I was there to investigate local textile production and distribution, and I took the opportunity to explore the community and local territory. The town turned out to be both an engaging and beautiful locale. The air is clear, the townspeople are welcoming and there is a local population of healers and mystics, both indigenousRead more

Cuernavaca, Robert Brady & Emperor Maximilian

I traveled to Cuernavaca to see the Robert Brady Museum, and survey his extensive collection of art, furniture and objects of cultural significance. Brady was a free-spirited refugee from a wealthy Iowa family who eventually settled in Mexico, and in addition to being a skilled painter had spectacular taste in art and objects. The best of his collections cover most available wall space, but somehow the house never feels overwhelming. The ambiance reminded me of Toller Cranston’s house in SanRead more

Design Engagements in Puebla, Mexico

I recently had the pleasure of giving two lectures and visiting leading design schools in Puebla City, Mexico. The first lecture: “El Paisaje de la Moda Canadiense y la Investigación de Sostenibilidad de la Moda” was held on March 26, 2019 at the School of Design at Ibero University. I talked (in Spanish) to the students in the textile design program about my recent research in Oaxaca, as well as discussed fashion sustainability in the Canadian context. The students askedRead more

The Ruins at Mitla, a Legacy of Proto Surface Design

I visited the Zapotec architectural ruins at Mitla, about an hour from Oaxaca City, Mexico. Like many legacies of pre-hispanic cultures much of the site was taken apart and used to build new buildings that supported the visual supremacy of conquering forces. What is significant however is what has been left. The walls of the ruins are made of decorative repeating motifs, or “grecas” in Spanish. Wave forms, repeating “eye” elements and undulating interleaved diagonals. All of these design elementsRead more

Visiting the Studios of Zapotec Weavers in Santa Ana del Valle, Oaxaca, Mexico

As part of my ongoing research into fashion sustainability and ethical capitalism, I visited the village of Santa Ana del Valle in the Tlacolula region of Oaxaca, Mexico. The Santa Ana weavers supply the famous weaving town of Teotitlan del Valle with weavings, as well as clients in the American Southwest, the master weavers also work on custom orders for an international clientele. The weavers I visited were independent contractors who took on large commissioned weaving orders for their clientRead more

Conference Presentation: “Heilige Röcke (Holy Skirts) and Liturgical Linings: The Use of Manuscript Materials in the Production of Garments” at the Book History and Print Culture Colloquium March 10, Massey College, University of Toronto

  On Saturday March 10, at the Book History and Print Culture Colloquium at Massey College, University of Toronto, whose theme was “Books Beyond Reading” I presented the following: “Heilige Röcke (Holy Skirts) and Liturgical Linings: The Use of Manuscript Materials in the Production of Garments” (abstract) As revealed through the physical explorations found within codicology research, the processes of manuscript recycling and re-purposing were common throughout history, usually for purposes of mending, or building up spines. However, this researchRead more

Nomenclature in Fashion Sustainability Research

sus·tain·a·bil·i·ty səˌstānəˈbilədē/ noun the ability to be maintained at a certain rate or level. “the sustainability of economic growth” avoidance of the depletion of natural resources in order to maintain an ecological balance. “the pursuit of global environmental sustainability” Sustainability; Ethical consumption; Greenwash; Responsible consumption; Organic clothes; Environment; Free trade; Neoliberal economic paradigm; Global apparel industry; Trade policy; Labor markets, Trade liberalization, Green textiles After a read through the available contemporary literature and research, the discourse around fashion sustainability as a whole seems to beRead more

Captive Animals

“Speed and efficiency are not in themselves signs of intelligence or capability or correctness. They do not carry with them any moral value. They don’t necessarily make any social contribution. The most horrifying, violent moments of the twentieth century have centered around regimes wedded to efficiency and to speed” (John Ralston Saul, 2013: 260). “Born Ready” @Mark O’Connell 2017 Michael Snow’s flock of Canada Geese perpetually take flight, their frustrated bid for freedom encased in a great glass ceilinged atriumRead more

Frankly Scarlet: Representations of St. Mary Magdalen Through the Italian Renaissance

Abstract: Within Christian iconography there has been a standard representation of scenes from the life of Christ. The main female figure in these scenes is Mary: Jesus’ mother, an archetypal maternal signifier. In addition to an otherwise mostly male visual narrative there is an inclusion of another woman who represents a younger, more worldly, archetype, and that is the figure of Mary Magdalen. An amalgamation of three different women in the biblical narrative, her pictorial representation was reduced to aRead more

Fashion Sustainability Principles and Definitions

There is an art that kills and an art that gives life. The fine fabric that we import from the West or the Far East has literally killed millions of our brothers and sisters, and delivered thousands of our dear sisters to a life of shame. True art must be evidence of happiness, contentment and purity of its authors (Gandhi 1929). Value and fashion. Fashion used to be very valuable, now it is treated like garbage-to-be. Luxury is not luxuriousRead more

The Ontology and Materiality of Fashion  

Everybody knows that the boat is leaking Everybody knows that the captain lied Everybody got this broken feeling Like their father or their dog just died Everybody’s talking to their pockets Everybody wants a box of chocolates And a long-stem rose Everybody knows Leonard Cohen, Everybody Knows I recently purchased a pair of pants. They are a slim-fit dark denim, tight jeans with a bit of a stretch. I liked the way they make my body look when I triedRead more

Second Hand News: Cultural and Economic Messages Encoded in the Consumption of Used Garments

Second Hand News: Cultural and Economic Messages Encoded in the Consumption of Used Garments Mark O’Connell@2015 no reproduction without permission Velvet fragments with Medici arms, 1440–1500 http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/works-of-art/46.156.118 ABSTRACT: Adoption and re-use of textiles and garments has been practiced by all textile-producing cultures. The manner of consumption of second hand clothes has been dictated and redefined by cultural directives specific to where the practice was taking place. Prevailing cultural, classist and economic factors can change how a second-hand garment will beRead more

Set Dressing: Courbet’s “L’Atelier du Peintre” and the Power of Fashion

“Studio Dressing: Courbet’s ‘L’Atelier du Peintre’ and the Power of Fashion” Gustave Courbet : “L’Atelier du Peintre. Allégorie Réelle Déterminant une Phase de Sept Années de ma Vie Artistique (The Artist’s Studio. A Real Allegory of A Seven-Year Phase of My Artistic Life)” (1855), Collection Musée D’Orsay, Paris. “I have studied, outside any system and without prejudice, the art of the ancients and the art of the moderns. I no more wanted to imitate the one than to copy the other;Read more

From Versailles to the Ganges, Dress as a Form of Sartorial Nationalism

From Versailles to the Ganges, Dress as a Form of Sartorial Nationalism, Mark O’Connell@2015 No Reproduction without permission “We should not ask ‘what is a nation’ but rather […] How does nation work as a practical category, as classificatory scheme, as cognitive frame? What makes the use of that category by or against states more or less resonant or effective? What makes the nation-evoking, nation-invoking efforts of political entrepreneurs more or less likely to proceed” Rogers Brubaker quoted in: PatriotsRead more

Glamour is Not Gamine

Glamour is not Gamine: Thoughts on the Construction of Modern and Historical Glamour ”Adorned with the most modern artifices, beautified according to the newest techniques, she comes down from the remoteness of the ages, from Thebes, from Crete, from Chichén-Itzá; and she is also the totem set up deep in the African jungle; she is a helicopter and she is a bird; and there is this, the greatest wonder of all: under her tinted hair the forest murmur becomes aRead more

Ephemeral Exhibition- An Exploration of Ontological Anxiety Surrounding Digital Painting

Ephemeral Exhibition- An Exploration of Ontological Anxiety Surrounding Digital Painting Mark O’Connell@2015 No reproduction without permission “For the mimetic theory, by its very terms, challenges art to justify itself.” Susan Sontag, 1966 Against Interpretation As an artist who works in the new media of digital painting, the latent paradoxes inherent in the medium at times intrigue and at others confound me. The questions of what the true nature of digital painting truly is, is one I explore while I am makingRead more

Desanctifying the Monastary of Modernism

Desanctifying the Monastary of Modernism: a Multidimensional Exploration into the Conjoined Processes of Construction and Destruction that the Application of the Philosophy of the “Modern” Generates. A Performative Meditation on the creation of “Modernity” November 21, Ryerson School of Fashion Mark O’Connell “We are weighed down, every moment, by the conception and sensation of Time. And there are but two means of escaping and forgetting this nightmare: pleasure and work. Pleasure consumes us. Work strengthens us. Let us choose.” BaudelaireRead more

Reposition the Canon, an Arts Based Exploration into Post-Structuralist Theory and Art Historical Biases

  “Reposition the Canon, an Arts Based Exploration in Post-Structuralist Theory and Art Historical Biases” Mark O’Connell@2015 no reproduction without permission The visual narrative of this piece is based on the concept of knitting an unbroken narrative with a beginning, a logical progression towards an ending. Which in my opinion has been part of the process of constructing a cohesive modern art history. I have knitted a swatch to represent this historical progressive process, and then built a sculpture aroundRead more