Visual Arts

Fourth Friday will feature premiere of 'Darkroom Showcase'

We've all heard of being fashionably late — showing up to the party long enough after the scheduled starting time to make a big entrance.

But if you wait too long to roll into the Lexington Art League's monthly Fourth Friday party tonight, you might miss the fashionable debut of Darkroom Showcase.

It will last 15 minutes, 7:15 to 7:30. That's it. And they're not going to tell you what it is.

Well, not specifically.

The details and descriptions are hush-hush, but LAL events and visitors coordinator Bianca Spriggs and fashion designer Soreyda Begley, the artist for the first Darkroom Showcase, sat down for coffee Tuesday morning in the LAL @ Loudoun House kitchen to talk about the event in general terms.

"The idea is to have artists come in, take a look at the exhibit, and say, 'OK, we want to put together some sort of performance for the Fourth Friday event to talk about what's going on on the walls here," Spriggs says. "We want to take visual art, art that's on the walls, and get a cross-disciplinary, more interactive feel for the audience."

This month's Showcase is a response to Nude 2010, and no, the irony of having a clothing designer respond to the Nude show was not lost on Spriggs and Begley.

"I started thinking about ways we could talk about vulnerability and exposure and intimacy without having nudity as a part of the performance," Spriggs says.

She thought of Begley.

"This is just perfect for me," says Begley, a native of Honduras. "The opportunity to be really creative and go over the top is really inspiring."

The feel will be "steam punk," which Spriggs says is "this aesthetic, and for some people a way of life, that relies on the Victorian, 19th-century look and things powered by steam and restraint metal and this tension between vice and virtue."

Visual art will still be a big part of the presentation. With fashion, it will just be a different type of visual art.

Outside of the Darkroom project, Begley is building a portfolio of designs, working on prom and wedding designs, and the outfits for the Bluegrass Youth Ballet's Day of the Dead performances.

The recent economic downturn has been a challenge for designers, Begley says, "because people tend to not want to pay more than what something would cost in a department store."

The Darkroom Showcase provides a big opportunity to show her work to a wide audience.

Begley's first step in working on the presentation was to look at the Nude exhibit.

"I thought, 'Wow, people can be so expressive even when they're naked,'" Begley says, noting the exhibit's photographs. "It really expresses confidence and how at peace you are with yourself. When you are aware of what's going on around you and self-conscious, you have a tendency to cover yourself more and be more defensive. Seeing so much nudity on the walls was like, wow, you really can be naked and not be vulnerable, because it takes a lot of guts to be naked."

This will be the inaugural Darkroom Showcase, so Spriggs and Begley really don't have any precedents to follow.

"She's like a dream partner," Spriggs says of Begley. "She'll say, 'I don't know what you mean, but we'll know, we'll know when we get there.'"

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