Wondering what you might be able to do with your old bra?
Kristy Bishop, an artist in residence at 701 Center for Contemporary Art, is soliciting donations of bras for an exhibition that will be tentatively displayed in January.
She also is accepting other foundational garments, such as garter belts and pantyhose, through the end of her Nov. 9 residency at 701 Whaley St., Suite 205.
Bishop’s works will include a mix of past garments, modern garments and some “not necessarily in existence,” all reflecting society’s pressures when it comes to body image.
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“It’s something that’s been in my mind for a long time, and luckily, the residency is now providing me with the opportunity and the means to do it,” she said.
Each bra has a different story behind it, and many of the donors appreciate that Bishop can use them in an interesting and unusual way, rather than just throwing them out.
“A lot of women who have brought them in have been like, ‘My body’s changed. These are no longer what fits me, but I just don’t want to get rid of them,’ ” she said.
Bishop, who started work on the project about a month ago, has been dismantling the bras and reconstructing them in different ways.
“They’re really reminiscent of other female lines and body parts,” she said.
Some of the pieces she is working on so far include a hoop skirt, corsets and a wall of bra cups sewn onto a sheet of fabric.
Bishop typically works with fabrics for her art, as she has three pieces in 701 CCA’s current Biennial show featuring naturally dyed silk.
Bishop said she is about a quarter of the way through the project, but is working to fulfill other duties required for artists in residence. Those artists, who work toward a solo exhibition at 701 CCA, participate in workshops and other community engagements in Columbia.
Bishop is hosting a workshop on natural dyes Oct. 3-30 and another on weaving on tapestry looms Oct. 31.
“They get to learn how to warp it and do different weaving techniques, all with yarn they dyed with plant material using historical methods,” she said.
Bishop, who also will use some of those natural dye techniques for her exhibition, said she was drawn to using bras as art material because it is an essential part of most western women’s daily wardrobes.
“These undergarments are things that change a woman’s body physically and kind of changes your mental state sometimes and how you feel about yourself by how you’re perceiving yourself and how you’re thinking about how others are perceiving you,” she said.
Make a donation
Drop off or mail clean bras or other foundational garments to 701 CCA, 701 Whaley St., Suite 205, Columbia, SC 29201.