Thanks to the Fine Arts Visions Guest Artist Fund, Montreal-based artist Alice-Anne Augustin spent the day at GPS on October 3, speaking of her robes de papier (paper dresses) and sharing her story and her message behind her art: Create something exceptional out of something common.
“Her visit creates an incredible cross-curricular opportunity with the World Languages and Fine Arts Departments,” says Meg Persinger Brock '79, Chair of GPS Fine and Performing Arts. “We are thrilled to have so many of our students interact with and learn from a global citizen who possesses such a valuable and strong female voice.”
In addition to several art classes, Augustin met with French III students who conversed in her native tongue and learned about her upbringing as a mixed-race woman on the island of Guadeloupe.
Widely recognized for the dresses she designs and sews from newspapers, Augustin’s road to recognition for her artistry includes a childhood in Guadeloupe and a master’s in fine arts in Montreal. Degrees in communication and art combine in her chosen medium of newsprint for finished sculptural dresses.
Emerging from her creations is an attempt to “counter the phenomenon of disconnection” from a world brought about by tablets, phones, and computers, says Emmanuel Becquet, President of the French-American Chamber of Commerce of Tennessee, who accompanied the artist on her visit to GPS.
The connection from the French-American Chamber of Commerce to GPS came through former GPS student Tatiana Poggi ’18 last year. Poggi served as a junior board member for the chamber for two years, and when news of Augustin’s visit reached her, she knew GPS girls would want to hear from the artist.
“Tatiana told me about the GPS paper dresses that had been a tradition at the school,” says Becquet. Poggi then connected Becquet with Brock and together they coordinated Augustin’s visit to GPS.
Also in Chattanooga for an art show hosted by the French-American Chamber at the Grandfalloon on October 5, Augustin chose to leave behind two of her creations displayed at the show, and Becquet delivered them to Brock for the GPS Art Department. “She was concerned the skirts might be damaged in transport on the way back, so she thought the girls would like them,” Becquet says.
So thrilled were the students with getting to keep the skirts, in return they created two paper dresses themselves, curated from old maps of Chattanooga, to give to Augustin as a thank-you gift. And so impressed with our students was Augustin, that she’s planning a return visit in April 2019.