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Lynda, Turkey Hunter, Portage, IN by Joel Degrand

Photograph, Archival Ink Jet
90.0 inch x 72.0 inch

Original work, only 1 available
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About This Work

"Uniforms, Outfits, & Accessories" We think of the word "uniform" to mean the distinctive clothing worn by members of the same organization. However, in today's society the term is somewhat distilled and can be used interchangeably to denote outfits that are similar in nature, but not exactly the same, and not necessarily worn by members of an organization. The history of the uniform, goes back to the history of clothing and textiles. Textiles are defined as felt or spun fibers made into yarn that are netted, looped and knitted or woven into fabrics. They first appeared in the Middle East during the late Stone Age. From these ancient times to the present day, the production of textiles evolved and influenced how people clothed themselves. Uniforms, and outfits, are a decisive part of the human physical appearance and this appearance has a social significance in all parts of the world. Every society has a dress code that is well defined and understood by most members of that particular group. The dress code has specific rules, which in turn signal a message given by a person's clothing and the way it is worn. The message may indicate income, social class, religious affiliation, attitude, sexual orientation, marital status, or sexual availability. It may be seen in the clothes worn in the armed services, the paramilitary, the police, security guards, and the clergy. It can also be seen in shops, banks, post offices airports, bars, restaurants and hotels, sports teams, clubs, schools, and prisons. Sometimes corporations use uniforms to create a brand or corporate image. (The first service uniform registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark office was the Playboy Bunny outfit.). Uniforms, and outfits in general, send social signals that usually indicate personal and cultural identity. The idea of dress code works on many levels and is defined in many ways. One example is to assume that expensive clothes indicate wealth and conversely less expensive clothes indicate someone poorer. This is not always true, of course, but sociologists call this "conspicuous consumption", which simply means that clothing can send a message even though none may be intended. In some cases, however, the dress code is intentional such as a gang member who wears a hat a certain way, or a certain color shirt, to be easily identified by another gang member. All members of organizations, such as the armed forces, have a distinctive chain of command that is readily seen as part of the uniform in the form of accessories such as a patch sewn on the arm of a shirt or coat, or a brass star that indicates a higher rank. In fact, accessories apply to most uniforms and outfits. The UPS driver has a brown outfit with a yellow insignia on the logo. A baker who works in a hot environment wears light clothing, a white apron to hide the traces of flour and a net to keep his or her hair back. A coal miner accessorizes for safety by carrying a light and a device for measuring methane gas, and for comfort by wearing knee pads for the grueling, kneeling position required for their work. Even though every society and every culture creates uniforms and outfits that are unique, they are also in a state of flux.Uniforms and costumes such as those worn by flight attendants, sports players and the military are constantly changing, sometimes conveying different social messages. Changes in uniforms and outfits can be faster than the change of the culture as a whole. These changes in fashion can happen within days, such as the clothing worn by a young American girl, or it may take years or even generations, depending on politics, religion, money or effort, to make changes to an outfit such as the ancient burqa worn by women in the Middle East. It is daunting to think about the many articles of clothing that are made and worn each day, and it is intriguing to discover why individuals pick and choose what they wear, not to mention that some people don’t have a choice. The accessories alone for clothing are sometimes incomprehensible and what I consider to be a cultural phenomenon. If people define a particular culture then people are certainly defined by what they wear in that culture. My hope is to choose wisely and find those unique uniforms, outfits, and accessories that best exemplify any particular culture and hopefully tell the story of the individual who wears these outfits. Photographs have a unique characteristic of capturing the moment but also have the ability to tell a story or narrative years later when everything has evolved and morphed into something usually quite different from the moment it’s made. I feel that it is important historically to define cultural identity, and how it can resonate visually and bring the past to life. This is not only a reminder, but also an educational tool, which has the ability to break down prejudices and enlighten the senses to think about the past and its relationship to the future. For the past 5 years I have been making a photographic documentation and examination of the peculiarities and the complexities of what we wear. I look for and try to capture the physiological and psychological nuances portrayed by the people that I photograph. And, among other things, I try to explore the phenomenon of symbolism that is inherent in what we choose to wear and how this affects and defines our cultural identity. By documenting these uniforms, outfits and accessories I hope to portray the evolutionary changes that occur in clothing, and in small way I hope to bring a better understanding of the values and meaning of what people wear. Prints in this series are made life size to better convey the importance of what is worn, and to allow the viewer to confront the subject matter with a more “real” sensibility about cultural identity. Joel DeGrand © 2008


Beverly Shores, in United States

Joel DeGrand- Narrative of Career I have been a professional and fine art photographer for more than 40 years, living in the Chicago area for the past 21 years. I have received numerous awards during my career for advertising and fine arts photogr... More


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Artwork Details

Type: Photograph
Artwork Height: 90.0 inch
Artwork Width: 72.0 inch
Depth: 0.5 inch
Weight: 5.0 lbs

Ready to Hang: Yes
Framed: No
Year Created: 2008
Signed: Yes
Signature Location: Back

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