November 3-4, 11am to 8pm – EXHIBITION – Fashion designer Kendra Benson will show her third collection for her line This Woman’s Work, entitled “americanodyssey”, in a multi-media installation at The Invisible Dog November 3rd and 4th, 11-8pm.
This collection started by discovering a defunct chain of restaurants throughout the Midwest called Nickerson Farms, whose abandoned shells still dot the landscape. These restaurants had a unique sensibility – graphic Tudor-Farmhouse hybrids with high-pitched, sun-faded red roofs. They aimed to provide a kitschy, souvenir-laden, uniquely American dining experience for highway travelers, as well as a reliable fine dining experience for locals on Sundays after church.
Kendra began traveling around the country to visit some of the original Nickerson Farms locations – 79 in total – documenting what remains of these iconic structures. Sometimes she discovered restaurants completely intact and untouched since closing. Other times only the signs with their unmistakable gothic lettering would be left standing. Most interesting were the instances where these structures had been converted into new businesses, with new colors and materials applied crudely atop the signature colors and materials of the original Nickerson Farms. And sometimes only the foundations of the buildings remained along with loose bathroom tiles, broken plates, and gas hookups.
The collection has evolved to center around the concepts of Americana, the great American road trip, the degradation of a unique post-war American culture, and finding remnants from our past hidden in plain sight amongst the shiny new homogenized aesthetic. Her language for the clothes comes from the iconoclastic American photographers who made this journey and captured the American landscape in the 50s, 60s, 70s, and today – Jim Dow, Robert Frank, Ed Ruscha, Stephen Shore, and Alec Soth.
The pieces in this narrative-driven collection move in a color progression from graphic, clean, and structured to blurry, disjointed, and decayed. The use of found objects, man-made textures, play with transparency, and vague cultural references of the 1960s have all informed Kendra’s design decisions.
Kendra has been developing this collection over the course of three years with most of the work being created in the past year.