Stephanie Liner.

At the Renwick Gallery, earlier this year, right before spring semester swallowed me whole. I remember walking past the foyer & stopping dead in my tracks: What an arresting work of art, this life-size egg—rather like a foot-carriage transporting a sullen-looking, almost confrontational Cinderella!

The work in question is part of an installation series entitled ‘Momentos Of A Doomed Construct’ by textile artist Stephanie Liner. Ms. Liner was featured in the Smithsonian’s ‘40 Under 40’ exhibit, itself a celebration of young, American talent.

‘Momentos’ is summarised in the gorgeous catalogue (which I’ve photographed below) thusly:

Life-size orbs upholstered in reproduced chintz fabric house models … [becoming] literally one with the furniture. The dresses they don continue past the hem, lining the interior to form Fauxbergé cocoons of middle-class taste. Windows allow viewers to self-consciously enact the [model’s] gaze, & the inhabitants to return a different stare. To peek in is to transgress Liner’s miniature worlds where craftsmanship is still valued. ¹

I was so transfixed by the sight of this isolated woman imprisoned in a bespoke egg that I hadn’t realised photography was prohibited; I managed one shot before a security guard tackled me. Kidding!

Uncomfortable with my inadvertant transgression, I contacted Ms. Liner & sought permission to share this photo. Not only did she kindly oblige, she was generous enough to answer a couple of quick questions below:

Ms. Tynan: ‘Momentos’ is credited as belonging to a 2009 series. Were you asked by [Smithsonian] to choose a work that best exemplifies your talent, or did they request that particular installation? How long does it typically take you to design & construct these pieces?

Ms. Liner: I actually made a new piece specifically for the Renwick so it is an entirely different piece in the museum than what you see in the catalogue. They take around nine months to a year to build. The museum chose [this piece] specifically.

Ms. Tynan: I love that the model looked rather sullen. Was this a facial expression you asked her to assume, or was it the result of sitting in the egg all morning?

Ms. Liner: Her body language & facial expression are informed by me. She must assume this. It is her only way to ward off the viewer’s gaze.

According to her website, ‘the use of historical floral patterns, feminine colors, Queen Anne details, & ornate trimming elaborate on the idea of femininity & the decorative while the use of upholstery & carpentry techniques & furniture framing speak to the traditional masculine.’

I cannot wait to see what this clever artist comes up with next!

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¹ Bell, Nicholas R. (Ed.) 40 Under 40: Craft Futures. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2012.
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