Nothing makes a statement quite like a dazzling holiday gown. Miniature, to-scale sculptures of such gorgeous, festive dresses, created by Renée Weis Chase, a professor of fashion design in the Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design, are currently on display at the Joan Shepp boutique in Philadelphia’s Rittenhouse Square for the holiday season.
Chase, who designed women’s sportswear for many years, was inspired by a pottery class to create the clay figures of gowns. She has since shown the figures at galleries including New Century Artists Gallery in New York and Wayne Art Center in Pennsylvania.
“For me, a dress is a symbol of time, place, culture and self,” said Chase. “Choice in dress becomes a representation of image, emotion, experience and fantasy. It is a reflection to the outside world of a message that the wearer delivers through clothing choices.”
“Open Heart,” a figure made of white stoneware with a hand-cut open motif is on display in the shop’s front window.
“Goddess,” a hand built sculpture with red underglaze, is part of the collection on display inside the boutique, along with a shimmering black sculpture entitled “Victoria.” The figures range from 17 to 22 inches in height.
“In my work, I ask the viewer to see the imaginary woman inside of the sculpture – to define her persona,” she said. “I use the attitude and gesture of the form to portray a feeling that only the observer can define.”
Chase also creates replicas of wedding gowns. According to her, “Each sculpture captures an irreplaceable moment in time and reflects a capstone life experience.”
For more information about Chase’s work and to purchase her figures, visit www.cloth2clay.com.