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A guided tour of the exhibition “Patrick Kelly: Runway of Love” with Peabody Essex Museum curator Petra Slinkard, hosted by the Society of Arts + Crafts.
“Patrick Kelly: Runway of Love” celebrates the career and legacy of fashion designer Patrick Kelly (born in Vicksburg, Mississippi, 1954–1990). Based in Paris from 1979, Kelly was primarily self-taught and fearlessly drew inspiration from his experiences growing up in the American South, his Black heritage, his days in the New York and Paris club scenes, and his personal muses. His light-hearted and sophisticated designs pushed racial and cultural boundaries, asserted Black empowerment, and were rooted in expressions of love and joy. The exhibition was first presented at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 2014 and revised for presentation at the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco. The exhibition at PEM situates Kelly and his work in the broader context of art and fashion history by exploring the impulses behind his designs, his significant collection of racist memorabilia (images of which he repurposed to tell his own story), and footage from his exuberant and groundbreaking fashion shows.
First presented by the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 2014, and reconstituted by the de Young, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco in 2021, the exhibition presents more than 75 fully accessorized runway ensembles, dating from 1984 to 1989.
About our guide, Petra Slinkard, Curator of Fashion and Textiles at the Peabody Essex Museum
Petra Slinkard joined PEM in 2018, following her role as Curator of Costume at the Chicago History Museum, where she worked with a collection of more than 50,000 examples of fashion and textiles used in exhibitions, research, and community outreach. At PEM, Slinkard fosters the growth and inclusive spirit of the museum’s celebrated fashion initiative to develop a vibrant array of exhibitions, installations and programming that celebrate the global impact and reach of fashion and textiles. Slinkard oversees the museum’s newly opened Carl and Iris Barrel Apfel Gallery of Fashion and Design and was the co-curator of Made It: The Women who Revolutionized Fashion which was organized in association with the Kunstmuseum Den Haag. She served as the coordinating curator for Patrick Kelly: Runway of Love, which opened June 25, 2022. In her role as Director of Curatorial Affairs, Slinkard oversees the integration of PEM’s exhibition research and curatorial teams and develops departmental priorities and the strategies to deliver them.
Petra conceived and curated the exhibitions, Chicago Styled: Fashioning The Magnificent Mile®, and Making Mainbocher | The First American Couturier, for which she authored catalogues of the same titles. Prior to CHM she worked at Newfields (Indianapolis Museum of Art), where she helped expand the museum’s fashion and textile exhibition program and collection, as well as supported key events and the Museum’s Fashion Arts Society. At Newfields (IMA) she helped to shape a number of exhibitions such as An American Legacy: Norell, Blass, Halston and Sprouse, Body Unbound: Contemporary Couture from the IMA’s Collection, and co-curated Ball-Nogues Studio: Gravity’s Loom. Slinkard is an active member of the Costume Society of America (CSA) and the American Association of Museum Curators (AAMC). She serves on the National Board of CSA, and previously served as a juror for the Milla Davenport Publication Award and the chair for the Richard Martin Exhibition Award Committee. She regularly presents programming on fashion and design history, as well as museum studies. Petra is a graduate of Indiana University, Bloomington, where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Fashion Merchandising, a Bachelor of Arts in Art History with a concentration in Modern and Contemporary Art and a Master of Science in Fashion/Textile History. In 2017 she was recognized as one of the University’s ’20 under 40′ most distinguished alumni in the College of Arts and Sciences and joined the advisory board for I.U.’s newly established School of Art, Architecture and Design.
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