ANIMAL’s feature Artist’s Notebook asks artists to show us their idea sketch next to a finished piece. This week, we peak into the preparatory notebooks of Kristin Reger, 1/2 of collaborative unit with artist Laura McMillian who drew, designed, dyed, sewed, printed, burned, welded and strung up five themed “upskirts” for an installation at the Textile Art Center

The print you’re wondering about I lovingly refer to as “SWAMP HANDS.” It was custom-designed for the collaborative installation UPSKIRT which I did with costume designer Laura McMillian. It was an exhibition is of five giant, enterable dresses. Each dress is its own world of fabric nuttiness and based on an environment. This particular print belongs to the swamp-inspired dress. Laura designed of the interior of the Swamp and I focused on the prints.

It’s a two color screen printed design. I drew most of the hands – our assistant Arielle Avenia helped with a few and in printing the design. I scanned everything in and worked it into a tessellated repeat, put it into a half drop design, then separated it into two layers for transfer to films. We did DIY exposure at the Bushwick Print Lab and printed them on the floor of our studio. There are four prints in the installation done this way.The idea for the swamp hands came from a few things. I’m a textile designer by trade, so I was looking forward to making engaging prints without commercial obligation. There is something universally attractive about repeated imagery, and something inherently lovely about putting an image on fabric. These qualities drive me to continue to make prints a part of my studio practice. I’m interested in the category we call conversationals. This includes pretty much anything that is an identifiable object that is not a flower.  I like the idea that simply putting an image on fabric causes people to talk about it.

I drew the hands from internet images of nail art. Superimposing gauche acrylic extensions into dirty, back-from-the-dead scene was a pretty fun and subversive synthesis. People respond to this sort of illustration because it is grimy and glam at the same time, expressing a timely awareness of the urban experience.  The hands don’t read as manicure poses, but they have little details that imply femme vanity. Hands are immensely expressive.  The positions they assume here are calm but do have some reaching agony beneath.

The other prints you’re interested in, the ones in the hell-themed dress, carry through similar themes: urban decadence, female identity through fashion.  They represent the Seven Deadly Sins.  They were printed through sublimation printing which is still an industrial process generally less available to artists, although there are some websites offering similar desktop publishing of fabric. I drew these and printed them with very few changes.  The medium becomes more powerful here because it is not being used in a conventional way – there are no patterns, just straight drawings on fabric.
Upskirt,” Laura McMillian and Kristin Reger, Nov 30 – Dec 21, The Textile Art Center, Brooklyn

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