Grace Miceli was born in Chicago, IL. She currently studies at Smith College. Her work is about babies, plastic, witches, office supplies, the 1990s, trying to be cool, hot babes and the internet. Her biggest influence is the episode of The Simpsons when dolphins take over the world. She has recently started designing clothes, I asked her a little about her first collection, Alien Grooves.
Hey Grace, first of all, what interests you? How did you translate that into making clothes?
I’m interested in what defines trends, defying supposed value and class
and embracing tacky or uncomfortable aesthetics. I am interested in
being critical of my own specific culture. Also the successful use of
humor across multiple mediums. I started making clothing at the advice
of my tutor to begin working with physical materials aside from
everything being flat prints or wall hangings or draped fabrics and I
wanted to challenge myself to construct something from my mind and I am
really interested in what happens when you wear something as opposed to
just admiring it from afar. I am interested in constructing a reality
that is able to blend with the general focus or ideas found on the
internet and also reaching towards physical places that are impossible
like outer-space, the 1990s and virtual reality.
Within the art world there is a sort of snobbery where fashion is
concerned, a lot of people see it as a lesser art form, so to speak, not
to be taken seriously. Do you see making clothes as something that is
secondary to making art? Or is there no differentiating for you?
To to honest, I am just starting to familiarize myself with the fashion
world, but as soon as I began looking and learning I couldn’t ignore all
of the similarities, visual and often conceptual, that I found to a lot
of art. I think it’s silly to consider one less valuable than the other,
both art and fashion operate as major industries which concern
themselves with profit (of course opinions will differ here). But there
are always going to be individuals within both the art world and fashion
who are making critical and subversive statements while at the same time
integrating powerful and engaging visual elements, and that is where my
interest lies at the moment.
You’re really into blogging and the internet, right? There’s a kind of
immediacy in that, like having a blog or a tumblr and putting all your
interests in one place so that everyone can see what kind of person you
are, or what kind of person you want to be, which is how a lot of people
use fashion. It’s all about this cult of trying to be cool, which is
what a lot of your work’s about.
You are able to create an entirely separate persona and social
environment on the internet. It does create completely unique
opportunities and interactions which is something I find important, you
are able to defy physical location, but yeah it is also really easy to
get caught up in and it can become quite difficult to understand where
the cause and effect lie in relationship to yourself in connection with
the images that you see and choose on the internet.
There’s a massive DIY element to what you do, like publishing zines etc,
which makes me think of how in the 90s there was this really cool
movement where girls were making things happen on their own. The Riot
grrrl movement put a lot of emphasis on the whole DIY ethic . We were
too young to be a part of that, do you think a motive for what you do is
trying to engage with that, bring it back?
In a way, totally. I want public space, a platform to share the things
that I make and consider important. A lot has changed thanks to riot
grrl, and other less publicized/popularized female & queer movements,
but not enough to make me feel content I guess. And as much as I use and
support the internet as a place to share these ideas, its too easy for
things to get lost, which is why I use zines or clothing, they ask for
more time and attention. We can spend hours blogging but there’s a lot
to be said about the power of the physical presence of somebody or
something. But, the internet is not something that can be ignored
anymore, so I think we need to try to understand the positive effects
and complications it can cause relating to “real life” or whatever.
The ICA Everything night that you are part of is ‘girl’ themed, what are your thoughts on this? Do you think it’s useful to make gender distinctions in terms of curating?
Yeah about the whole “girl” thing. If you can consider the world girl as not being demeaning but more as a positive term used to celebrate the positive aspects of being a youth-as a girl you haven’t yet been told what you can/can’t do etc. then it isn’t as problematic, and of course one day there is the hope that there won’t have to be any sort of separation or special treatment being female or a female artist, but as long as being a girl isn’t the only or main point of the work or why you are looking at it, but just a technical defining factor. But I’d like to consider or see this event as a celebration of it, due to the fact that there is a definite historical and current underepresentation of showcased female artists.
Finally, whose style do you admire? Do you feel influenced by anyone in
So many people! To name a few, Nina Hagan, Lil’ Kim, Gwen Stefani,
Parker Posey, Kim Gordon, Courtney Love, K8 Hardy, Grace Jones, Lydia
Lunch, Marilyn Manson, Drew Barrymore, Lizzy Mercier Descloux, Kathleen
Hanna & Rose McGowan.
Grace is going to be part of the ICA Girls Night on the 5th of February, she will be conducting a live fashion show of her work.