Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Barbara Gerdeman, Mixed Media Artist, Tells Her Story

My background includes a degree in Advertising Design from the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale and my artistic life/career has been diverse and exciting. I am always looking to experiment with new materials and techniques.

One of the projects that I have had the good fortune to be a part of is iConcept, an annual fundraising fashion show held by the Art Center Sarasota in Sarasota, Florida. It is a standing room only, always sold out event and the funds raised go to support their "Youth Art Education" programs. 

What makes iConcept interesting and unique is that the “fashions” are made by local artists using unconventional materials. Each year about 25 local artists volunteer their time and talent to create these wearable works of art. They are usually auctioned off after the event to the highest bidder.

My first creation was a black velvet dress with geometric shapes stamped on it. The stamps were created from faux finish sample boards. I stamped gold and silver metallic paints and included a matching purse.

Paint Swatch Dress

The 2nd year I purchased a dress at a local Goodwill store as a 'shell' and proceeded to sew hundreds of paper paint sample strips in a pattern of green, blue and black. The after-effect was a fringe feel that moved and swayed as the model walked down the runway. It had a coordinating purse made from 2 black paint trays, paint can handles and was spattered with the colors of paint found on the paint samples. I also made a head piece from paint sticks dipped in the colors, brushes and plastic drop cloths and a necklace made of black beads and silver paint can openers.

Plastic Bag Dress

My 3rd creation was a dress made out of plastic grocery store bags. Mixed in with the bags were pieces from random food boxes. I also made a purse from an ice cream container and a headpiece from food boxes and paper grocery bags. One of my favorite things about the outfit was the mini dress version I made for my model’s toddler daughter. Our local grocery store let me borrow a shopping cart and mom and daughter rocked the runway in their grocery couture.

Astral Queen Dress

The 4th creation was a collaboration piece with a team that included two other artists and my husband. We picked out photos that I had taken around the Sarasota area and made transparencies from them. The assemblage of this piece was quite intense. We had a large hoop skirt that had the transparencies attached to it. We added tulle, wire and lights. The really striking part about this piece was the large circular piece that went behind the model and behind her head. 

Baby Mama Dress

My 5th and most recent creation was an ode to the daily battle that many of us also know as “motherhood”. I created it from plastic baby food containers, lids, baby bottles and pacifiers. It was all spray painted in silver metallic and evolved to resemble a “suit of armor”. Running with this feeling I created a large back piece that also had three silver sprayed baby dolls and a “weapon” that was made from an oversized baby bottle, plastic baby blocks and a gift wrap cardboard tube – all sprayed metallic silver.

In closing I have to say that iConcept has really provided me an avenue to run with my creativity and has enticed me to push the limits of my imagination and even sometimes further than that which I feel I can comfortably create. My ideas are already percolating for next year’s iConcept event!

You can contact Barbara at For more information about iConcept, contact the Arts Center Sarasota at

This is Week 4 of 52 Artists in 52 Weeks. Thank you for reading and sharing Barbara’s post today!