History is woven into the fabric of over 100 pieces at the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s Off the Wall: American Art to Wear, Nov. 10 to May 17. This distinctive movement, which is recognized by the artists’ use of body-related forms to reflect what was happening culturally, socially and historically in the world at that time, popped during the 1960s and continued to flourish through the late ’90s.
“The works have stories,” says Dilys Blum, who is the show’s curator, along with independent textile historian and curator Mary Schoeser. The eclectic collection of costumes and clothing includes a dramatic cape crafted from recycled bird feathers that speaks to environmental justice for Native Americans and a combat vest dotted with plastic toy soldiers symbolizing the Vietnam War. “Looking to handmade sculptural crafts offered some respite from all of the chaos,” Blum says about the 60-plus artists featured. “They were interested in making something sculptural that could be worn, all while mining history and other cultures as inspiration.” Perelman Building, 2525 Pennsylvania Ave., philamuseum.org