Mall à la Mode

Bridget Safranek, Contributing Writer

Photo by Elizabeth Kerin.

Name: Thomas Menikos
Course of Study: Master of Fine Arts
Hometown: Mansfield, Texas

BS: How does your outfit align or represent your thesis exhibit?
TM: My outfit is one of many objects created for my thesis exhibition … All of these items are created in hopes of being identified as these authentic items but there are elements that lead pieces like this outfit to kind of straddle these realms of seriousness and laughable. Overall, the exhibition is made to comment on issues of identity and maturity and a kind of charlatanism as they are expressed in our personal narratives.

BS: Can you explain your outfit further?
TM: My intentions with this outfit were to create kind of a saccharine outlook on little talked about issues that people deal with in the struggle to be a good member of society, and a capable adult. I gravitate towards the idea of the astronaut and the spacesuit as both this kind of inspiration in childhood to achieve great things, and also in a sense what the astronaut represents as kind of this pinnacle of rugged individuality, but is also supported by thousands of people and mechanical and digital systems. It’s in between these dichotomies that I think most people live in. Somewhere in between a life attempting to be self-sufficient and organized, and a life where they are unsure and scared and hoping for something better but not knowing how to reach it necessarily.

BS: Fashion pet peeve?
TM: It’s when people constantly wear uncomfortable clothes just because they look nice, but complains (sic) constantly about them. It’s like, yeah, girl, those shoes sure look good over there on the floor, now why are you barefoot? Also, this one time, I went to a show, and a guy was literally wearing a small ornamental rug. Rugs are for floors.

BS: Who inspires your style?
TM: I like to think that the inevitable reality of me becoming an adult inspires my style. For men, there comes a time in our lives where we have our uniform that we wear the rest of our lives: collared shirt and jeans. Then we wear some sort of variation on that till we die. I figured I’d make my own uniform to die in, and here it is. I’ve combined comfort, style and pure utilitarian function all in one piece.  The older I get, and as I talk to other adults, we always talk about how tired we always are. So I just nipped that problem in the bud by modifying pajamas. And, I accessorize with this fancy pillow for power naps. Also, I was thinking a lot about dressing for the job … You know? So I made them look like an astronaut’s flight suit, because I’m basically twelve still.

BS: How important is fashion to you, and how important do you think it should be?
TM: You got (sic) to be comfortable for the long haul. Fashion helps you do that. There’s physical comfort, right? But there is also a comfort that comes with being confident. Confidence is hard to find so I figure if I can just fake it long enough, then others will think I have confidence and then maybe I’ll get some.

BS: How important is individuality in fashion?
TM: Individuality is good in small doses. It is wonderful to have a voice in contrast to what’s normal or pedestrian. However, the way everyone picks and reassembles fashion choices, religious beliefs, dietary restrictions or whatever, the norm is that there isn’t really a norm. I think this is an interesting reflection on society, just as postmodern art can be summed up as an orthodoxy of unorthodoxies, postmodern society is very similar, and I think fashion reflects that.

Menikos presents a body of mixed media products exploring the world of smoke and mirrors that exist within the guise of adulthood. Held at Ro2 Art Gallery, the exhibition runs May 7-28 with a reception for the artist on May 7, from 7-10 p.m.


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