NEW YORK — Marcella Mullins and Lillian Ludlow met at Imitation of Christ, fashion's house of quirky creativity that draws artists from a variety of disciplines, and it wasn't long before they decided to collaborate on a project.
"We would show up in the same outfits, admire the same authors and collect the same types of images," said Ludlow, explaining their simpatico relationship.
Ludlow, 35, is a painter. Mullins, 29, modeled after graduating from high school and found her way to Imitation of Christ in 2000 when Tara Subkoff was getting the label off the ground. She collects antique garden tools, which she incorporates into her art, and writes poetry. Both women like to sew.
They also like Blaise Cendrars, a Swiss novelist and poet who was part of the Montparnasse literary scene and a friend of Henry Miller and Ernest Hemingway. They have an abiding affection for linen.
Somnus, their work-in-progress, which encompasses fashion, film and art, began in 2004. More recently, Ludlow and Mullins curated a group show at Canada, a gallery at 55 Chrystie Street here, that runs through Sunday.
When searching for a title for the exhibition, Ludlow consulted Cendrars' 1926 "Moravagine" and picked a sentence from the novel, "I Throw Herring to the Dog."
"I opened the book and randomly chose it," said Ludlow. "It stuck out to me. I did the research and found that throwing the red herring is a diversion. The attempt of the show is to be a diversion from irony."
Several of the artists in the show have been associated with Imitation of Christ. Aurelio Valle, a singer and photographer, accompanied Mullins as a translator on an IOC trip to Mexico City. The collaged photos on transparencies he made for the show, "Grace," "Fundamental Tactics" and "Guerra Declarada" (2005), feature some of his lyrics. "His singing is very heartfelt," said Mullins. "He's a very tender person."
Another IOC alum, Joshua Leffel, made three ink-on-paper pictures, "Untitled 1-3" (2005), which tell complex stories that touch on religion, mythology and patriotism, layered with Arab themes. Subkoff's brother, Daniel, who does the silk-screen designs for IOC T-shirts, is represented in the show by two ink-on-paper drawings, both untitled, and a mixed media piece, "Have You Seen ‘The Great Escape?'" (2005).
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"It's really hard sometimes. I think I have a reputation for being really tough and aggressive and pushy but I really am a very shy person who wants to be liked, and that's the conflict constantly. There's something that takes hold - I want people to like me, I don't want to be mean - but if I see something that just cries out to be answered, I go for it," says renowned NBC News correspondent Andrea Mitchell. (📷: @axeldupeux)