Kati Toivanen, associate dean in the UMKC College of Arts & Sciences and professor in the Art & Art History Department, will have her public art project on display through September at Petticoat Lane in downtown Kansas City, Missouri.
The display, “Petticoat on Petticoat Ln.,” is part of the annual Art in the Loop that kicked off at the Kansas City Central Library July 1. It features a petticoat hanging above a street sign. By illustrating its meaning and origins, Toivanen provides a moment of surprise as drivers and pedestrians discover the garment hanging overhead.
“In this project I respond to the lovely street name ‘Petticoat Lane’ – a name I have always loved,” Toivanen said. “I pay homage to this specific block in downtown Kansas City, which a hundred years ago was a bustling hub of commerce and shopping and where petticoats were both worn and purchased. In this project I celebrate our downtown revitalization and cheer its return to vibrancy.”
Petticoat, a garment typically worn under dresses, is often designed to be visible or at least partly or occasionally seen. Toivanen said the petticoat acts as a beautiful symbol for the complex negotiation and merging of the private as well as public presentation of the self.
“I hope to disrupt the viewers’ everyday routines by providing a moment of surprise and by inviting conversation. When pedestrians look up (often an inappropriate view for skirts), they are offered a unique perspective of the fabric folds backlit by the sky. This piece softens the angular downtown environment and the blue shades cast color to the achromatic surroundings.”
Art in the Loop puts public art pieces in the path of downtowners and their everyday commutes. It aims to bring the arts to downtowners through a number of performances and exhibits throughout the next four months. This year’s project features 11 performances and nine exhibits from 20 artists or art groups, all from the Kansas City region.
The curator of the project Jessica Borusky is a lecturer in the Art & Art History Department at UMKC.