9.17.20 – 10.11.20
CityArts Downtown Orlando
39 S. Magnolia Avenue
Open Tues.-Sun. 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
BOMBSHELL: Masquerading Warfare
An Exhibition by Ben Van Beusekom, Couturier
In the early 1900s, to protect individuals and save lives, face masks and gas masks became widely worn during the chemical warfare of World War I and the Spanish Flu pandemic. Although we as a society have progressed over the last 100 years, we find history repeating itself. Today, we are challenged with the COVID-19 pandemic and the effort to save lives has become a focus once again. Face masks are not only a necessity, they’ve become trendy and fashionable, a statement of an individual’s personality. In contrast, the gas mask has always appeared misshapen and an unappealing fashion accessory. We respond to it with fear and revulsion.
Bombshell: Masquerading Warfare visually surprises viewers with its rebellious, unconventional, and elegant creations of gas masks. Avant-garde couture designer Ben Van Beusekom disrupts our perceptions and evokes beauty where once there was horror. In a world filled with chaos, his love of fantasy transforms these apocalyptic protectors into elaborate headpieces designed to titillate the senses. The exhibit highlights these glamourized saviors and recognizes the importance they have played throughout history by adorning them with texture, vivid color, and dazzling bejeweling. Visitors will leave the exhibit with a new appreciation for these stark objects that have morphed into magnificent fabrications.
For a behind-the-scenes look inside the artist’s studio, follow Ben Van Beusekom on Instagram @BenVanBeusekomArt, or visit www.benvanbeusekom.com. Bombshell: Masquerading Warfare is curated by Shanon Larimer, Principal at Larimer & Co. and is presented by the Global Peace Film Festival. This exhibition is funded in part by Orange County Arts and Cultural Affairs and United Arts of Central Florida and is made possible with the generous support of the Downtown Arts District and CityArts with special thanks to ForeFront Productions.
BEN VAN BEUSEKOM
Born and raised outside Minneapolis, artist Ben Van Beusekom creates avant-garde art with no limits in response to his own personal feelings and experiences. In addition to working as an art director by day, he is a fashion designer, couturier, and painter. His studio is his place of freedom, allowing Van Beusekom’s thoughts to wander and see where his next journey takes him. His works of art include paintings, dresses, and — uniquely — gas masks.
The first thing observers notice about his art is that it evokes a sense of fantasy. Extending the boundaries of the Green Art Movement, Van Beusekom tells stories of utter beauty using what most consider dreadful and discarded. With a focus on color and texture, he constructs chic, lavish garments and masks using only the finest gemstones, beads, Swarovski crystals, sequins, and fabrics. Each is personally applied, hand-stitched, and intricately sewn with an extreme attention to detail. It is an intensive yet rewarding process for Van Beusekom, and the results are elegant, unusual, and stunning. His fashion finds a bold life by pushing the limits of what conventionally is worn or carried.
To commemorate their 145th anniversary, Van Beusekom was commissioned by Bloomingdale’s Department Stores to create a couture traveling exhibition using their iconic “Big Brown Bag” shopping bags designed by the legendary Massimo Vignelli. He was also selected by The Forbes Company/Taubman Centers, Inc., to create a 15-foot statue adorned with Swarovski crystals to commemorate the 15-year anniversary of The Mall at Millenia. In 2017, his couture fashions debuted on the runway for L’Oréal Professional’s fashion show in New York City. He draws inspiration from the works of Alexander McQueen and currently resides in Orlando. Bombshell is his first solo show of couture gas masks to be on-view September 17 through October 11, 2020 at CityArts in Downtown Orlando.
To learn more about Van Beusekom or explore his portfolio, visit www.benvanbeusekom.com.