"Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society." So goes one of Mark Twain's most frequently quoted maxims. The second part of this idea is probably not true in modern American society. The first part, however, is worth debating. Are clothes a reflection of the wearer, or is the wearer influenced by current fashion? The Minnesota Center for Photography uses the work of six contemporary photographers to examine this very question with its latest exhibition, "Fashioned." As varied in style as the clearance rack at Macy's, the show features works focused on different elements of how we dress. New York-based artist Jessica Rowe's images don't feature a single person. She photographs dead women's clothing spread out on a flat surface. Separated from both their owners and closet, the items' new context is as fashion relics; things to look at and study, but certainly not to wear. Nick Kline's images of clothes are also lacking wearers. His series focuses on clothes hanging in plastic on racks in dry-cleaning shops. St. Paul photographer Linda Brooks uses a straightforward strategy of composing simple color images of young adults; words the subjects wrote describing themselves surround the images. After looking at what people choose to wear, or used to wear, you'll probably spend a good long time standing before your full-length mirror when you get home.
May 3-July 13, 2008