News Release

Johnson selected for 'Uncommon Thread' wearable art exhibition

Contact: Elise Doster


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 Model Maya Cook and Debbie Johnson  Johnson's wearable art dress

Caption …

THREADS OF FAMILY HISTORY -- Southeastern Louisiana University textile design professor Debbie Johnson, right, was selected for the 2008 Uncommon Thread Wearable Art Show, on display Oct. 21-Nov. 15 at the Louisiana State Museum in Baton Rouge. Johnson recreated a family heirloom dress pattern acquired by her family during WWII. It was modeled by Maya Cook of Baton Rouge, left, during the Oct. 18 opening art show opening.

HAMMOND – “When I first thought of the word FORCE,” said Debbie Johnson, “the first thing I thought of was not the chaos of the Iraq war or American politics, but rather the incredible, forceful nature of my family.”

     Johnson, associate professor of family and consumer sciences at Southeastern Louisiana University, is currently exhibiting a family-history inspired garment for Culture Candy’s 2008 Uncommon Thread Wearable Art Show. Artists were asked to interpret themes of “FORCE” to create a wearable garment encompassing dynamic history and symbolism.

     Johnson was chosen, along with 37 other national artists, to exhibit at the Louisiana State Museum in Baton Rouge from Oct. 21-Nov. 15.

     Johnson’s garment translates “Forces of Family” by using a family heirloom, a 1940s dress pattern once owned by her deceased grandmother. Johnson said that during World War II, her family could not afford fabric so her grandmother creatively sewed beautiful clothing out of flour and potato sacks.

     “She used what she had and still managed to create something wonderful,” said Johnson. “That concept and imagination within a family is what drove me to recreate the child’s garment and build upon what my grandmother had made so long ago.”

     Using white linen fabric, Johnson dyed the linen using tea bags to recreate an aged appearance. After she made the fabric look old and worn, Johnson began developing a design to represent the interlocking relationships of family members.

     Using reverse bobbin stitching -- a heavy machine stitch resembling French knots-- Johnson used green, yellow and pink thread to represent the different facets and generations of her family.

     She used green to symbolize the growth and renewal that occurs within a family and yellow and pink to represent happiness and passion for life.

     While some of the colored thread stands alone, other sections intersect to represent the unity of family.

     “I am very happy with my dress and I’m honored to share my family story through wearable art,” said Johnson. “Every family has a story and being able to represent that through my personal passion of textiles is something I am very proud to do. The garment will always be a part of me and my family history.”

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