Welcome to the Dior Talks podcast series themed around the seventh edition of Dior Lady Art and hosted by Paris-based journalist Katya Foreman. For this year’s event, 11 artists from around the world have participated in a game of metamorphosis by rendering the iconic Lady Dior handbag as a unique piece of art.
Born and raised in Vancouver, Canada, and based in Brooklyn, New York, our latest guest, Sara Cwynar, is fascinated by the visual politics of popular images, how they infiltrate our consciousness, and how images and objects change in value over time. Themes range from feminism to consumer culture.
The self-taught artist started out working as a graphic designer for the New York Times Magazine, going on to graduate with an MFA in photography from Yale. Drawn to create art, she started out making works in her parents’ garage, creating compositions using sourced images and objects found in drawers or the local dollar store.
Kitsch is a recurring source of inspiration, drawing on everything from costumes worn as a competitive figure skater during her childhood to the theories of Roland Barthes and Milan Kundera, who in his seminal work, “The Unbearable Lightness of Being,” explores kitsch as something more sinister that takes on existential meaning.
Cwynar’s large red Lady Dior in quilted leather is covered in patches of images sourced from museum archives and art history books, interspersed with stock photos depicting everything from birds to lips, the latter revisited in a 3D print by the Dior team. “I wanted to make a kind of encyclopedic object, a mini history, that someone carries around on their arm,” says the artist.
On a smaller bag in mustard yellow, photo patches are encapsulated in a second transparent skin forming the iconic ‘cannage’ pattern. Inside, the lining is covered in a picture of blue sky and clouds, with this idea that “You enter the bag and then you go into another world.”
Tune into the episode to learn more about her fascinating world.