Debra Rapoport, 65, is another artist who brings her work into the public by adorning herself with beautiful and artful objects either made by herself or found at thrift stores.

I met her while working at The New Museum Store and asked if I could take her photo. I didn’t have my good camera on me so she told me that I could come over anytime, take her picture, and talk. Ever since the first time I visited her magical apartment, full of wonderful wall hangings, paintings, and color, I was awestruck by her ability to construct beautiful and precious objects out of everyday materials.  Her work is compromised of recycled materials that she has been collecting off the streets of New York since the 1960s along with egg crates, lotto tickets, crayons and candles.

For Debra, the act of getting dressed is a creative process in itself. She wraps fabric in unexpected ways, turns her skirts backwards or upside down, and stacks on kitchen utensils to make artful and elegant outfits that express herself and her work. She says:

“My artwork is about collecting interesting materials that I build into ADDITIONS.  It’s about the layering, the textures, the patterns and colors.  I call it the A/B/C’s …Assembling, Building and Constructing. I apply materials until I feel the statement is complete. I do the same with my personal style/my body. I create objects/forms for the body as well as applying clothing and textiles.  I feel that I am building a living sculpture that I can develop, change and explore. I want to embrace who I am at every episode of my life.  We have the choice to present our SELVES to the world as we like. Art relies on our ability to choose. Life relies on our ability to choose to see it as a process of play.”

Debra shows how, through the art of thrifting and wearing clothes in new exciting ways, we can have fun and be creative at the same time. Lina Plioplyte made this video in collaboration

You can check out Debra’s process of making her work here:

Debra and Ilona are not only artists, but teachers as well. Dressing up allows them to share their creations with the world and in turn they are inspired by what they see when they walk out their doors everyday.

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Always Open ::
Ari Seth Cohen

// From our friends at the New Museum

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