STORY WRITTEN BY TARA LYNN JOHNSON
For Digital First Media
An exhibit at The Fabric Workshop and Museum (FWM) celebrates workers and honors their former leader. “Rabbit Rabbit Rabbit” presents an extensive display of various art works made by staff members in honor of Founder and Artistic Director Marion “Kippy” Boulton Stroud, who died in 2015. The title refers to a British superstition of repeating the word “rabbit” three times on the first day of every month to bring good luck. Stroud used to do that with her staff.
FWM, which opened in 1977, supports artistic experimentation and offers an Artist-In-Residence program in which staff and the artist collaborate. More than 800 artists have participated and their works make up the museum’s permanent collection of more than 6,000 objects, according to the press release.
Julia Policastro is one of the staff member artists whose work is displayed. She has two pieces in the exhibit. One is an almost life-sized nude female sitting on stuffed otter. It’s based on miniature sculptures from the 1920s, she said in a recent telephone interview.
“They were little sculptures people decorated their houses with,” she said. “Most were happy-go-lucky looking girls. I wanted to represent a different emotion that a woman could be having,” so hers has a bit of a sad face.
The second piece is a gargoyle with a gold-leafed face that looks like a mask, she said.
Both are ceramic, but she likes using other materials with that medium as well. She studied sculpture, and has taken ceramics classes. She also likes to sew. Her coworkers are creative in various ways, too, she said, and that makes the show interesting.
“There’s every single type of art you can imagine – fiber art, sculpture, video, and more,” she said. “It’s a good show to see a wide variety of different kinds of practices.”
A different practice at the museum — people don’t wander around alone. Each visitor gets a guide to show and explain the pieces and answer questions. Policastro, who’s a gallery guide and museum shop assistant, thinks that’s a great thing.
“I think it’s cool,” she said. “We have a lot of inside information from watching the artist in residence work.”
Policastro, who grew up in Wynnewood and went to Lower Merion and Temple University, loves working at the museum and is excited to be part of the staff show.
“I love the show because of the wide range of art you can come see and the fact that you don’t see this kind of work very often. It’s kind of underground art in Philly,” she said. “It’s great to see something out of the ordinary.”
She hopes that the exhibit will help people learn more about unique contemporary art and even just the fact that the museum exists.
“It’s interesting – the people that come in, they say, ‘I lived in Philly for years and haven’t heard of this place,’” she said. “But people here are doing some incredible work — work that’s the most contemporary you can get.”