Qiana Mestrich | Inherited Patterns | Photo Walls in Picture Collection Exhibition Series
The Art and Picture Collections at Mid-Manhattan Library present Inherited Patterns a site-specific exhibition of photographs by artist, writer and mother Qiana Mestrich. Inherited Patterns is a new series of photo-based work, the foundation of which are B&W images (sourced from the DuPont™ company archives) used in public relations and marketing campaigns for the Qiana® fabric. The color “swatches” are actual mug shots of women named Qiana that the artist found online. Each image is printed on Tyvek®, a recyclable DuPont™ material with many contemporary uses.
Also included in this exhibition is the Picture Collection Board display of pictures and text titled A Study in Gentle Persuasion: The Language of Qiana curated by the artist as well as her site-specific Art in the Windows installation titled Necked which can be seen inside the two small lobby vitrines as you enter and leave the library on 5th Avenue.
The marketing of DuPont’s Qiana® nylon was serious business. Retailers received pamphlets and magazines instructing them to “create an atmosphere of elegance for Qiana® through display.” Playing with the elements of visual merchandising, the vitrines are treated as retail shop window displays showcasing the artist’s personal collection of ladies scarves made from the fabric.
Curator and writer Susan Bright, joins Qiana Mestrich for An Artist Dialogue series event, on Saturday November 22 at 2:30 p.m. inside the Corner Room on the 1st floor.
Photo Walls in Picture Collection exhibition series is curated by Arezoo Moseni.
Founded in 1802 as a gunpowder mill, DuPont is an American chemical company whose inventions have been used in almost every industry and consumer product imaginable. In 1968 DuPont introduced a unique nylon fabric named "Qiana®" of which the popular disco era dresses, women’s intimates, men’s shirts, neckties and other wearables were made. Looking for more information about this synthetic fabric, a random Google Image search for my name one night led me to discover a prevalence of mug shots; all women who were also named Qiana.
That night I downloaded the mug shots which eventually totaled over fifty and counting… To this day, any given Google Image search for Qiana® still shows results with new booking images. My online discovery fueled many internal questions surrounding the lives of these women, privacy in the digital age, identity and circumstance and the social effects of consumerism. Lastly, a 1986 essay I was reading at the time by photographer Allan Sekula titled “The Body and the Archive” inspired questions around photography’s historical role in profiling the criminal body.
That initial discovery led me to create a series of blurry, bruise colored (self) portraits using the mug shots. This new work combining fragments of these booking images with other fashion marketing materials found during my research at the DuPont archives in Wilmington, DE. The series titled Inherited Patterns fuses two aesthetically opposing photographic genres through collage to make a formal introduction between the seemingly unrelated worlds of the fantasy Qiana® and the real-life Qiana(s).
The language used to market the Qiana® brand in advertisements extolled the seductive and luxurious qualities of this easy-care fabric. It’s this deceptively sweet poetry that I highlight on the Picture Collection board. Introducing Qiana® to the library’s visitors is the Art in the Windows installation at the entrance. This piece titled Necked showcases the application of Qiana® in neckwear (for both men and women) as a retail window display, leveraging the power of attraction inherent to visual merchandising.
Qiana Mestrich is a photobased visual artist, writer and mother from Brooklyn, New York. A 2013 graduate of the ICPBard College MFA in Advanced Photographic Practice, her autobiographical work establishes a study of heritage within complex and convoluted visual histories. She is the founder of Dodge & Burn: Diversity in Photography History, which profiles photographers of color. Her critical writing has also been published in art journals like Nueva Luz, ARC Magazine and SPE’s exposure. In 2012, she coedited (with fellow ICPBard alumna Michi Jigarjian) How We Do Both: Art and Motherhood (Secretary Press), a book about and by contemporary artist mothers. Qiana Mestrich is also an experienced digital marketing professional (SEO and Social Media) with a fourteen year career working within large corporations and international brands. She is currently the marketing consultant at the International Center for Photography.