Janet Lipkin - 1973


Reflecting on the art work and art wear I have created for the past 46 years,I see how much was influenced from my childhood passions. Creating paper dolls was an important activity when I was young. I started small, 6-9” dolls, and eventually made dolls 6’ tall! Clothing was custom fit for each doll.The smaller ones were housed in my Mother’s China Cabinet.

In 1969,as a junior at Pratt Institute, I discovered crochet as a medium. Crochet lends itself to drawing, painting and sculpture. It is portable and flexible, can be draped, stuffed, sewn and embellished. The first thing I created with crochet was a stuffed 5’ doll. Sculptures and garments followed, using the body as an armature around which to drape and shape the garment.

ARTWEAR was born. It was 1969, a group of friends studying at Pratt Institute, began exploring and sharing new information about crochet.

Color has always been important to me. I began natural dying yarns to develop rich palettes. Each value spoke to the next value of intensity in the yarn. Texture was another important component of my work. Crochet allowed one to draw a line in space and the graphic design to develop as one worked. Form could be developed before or during the crochet process. This freedom was intriguing and informative. It kept me captivated for 10 years.

Janet Lipkin - 1980s

In the beginning the ’80s, I was searching for a more graphic image for my artwear. I wanted to explore different motifs and tell stories through my artwear. The knitting machine allowed me to create elaborate images, tailored and draped forms which married together to tell a story. I began to work in a series, much like painter. Dyeing all my yarn to create a rich palette, ikat dyeing skeins of yarn and dip-dyeing panels of black and white knitted images. Now I began exploring acid dyes to create my color palette. Over the years I created a variety of series: Tibetan Tiger Coats, Indonesian Kimono, Mexican Kimonos, Dish Rag Kimonos, Swimming tunics, Geometric Ikat jackets, and many, many more.

In 1992, I began working with a much more serious subject matter, The Holocaust. My Mother had a letter written to her Mother from relatives in Poland in 1938. I had the letter translated from the Yiddish in which it was written,“Thank G-d that you could send us $5. so we could celebrate Passover”. This brought tears to my eyes and I knew I had to create images that spoke of this horror. I knew I did not want to put these images onto garments. I began to paint. I burned my new canvases ,painted and collaged a small series of dresses that spoke of this tragic event. I created a large painting of a baby dress, veiled with skeletons printed on them. The garment remained my metaphor, just in a different medium.

Janet Lipkin - 2000s

Continuing to paint and beginning to explore monotype as a medium from this time to the present.

In 2005 I felt the need to clothe the body again. I began to hand knit, it was a marriage of the texture from crochet and the graphics from the knitting machine. I could communicate a story or an emotion. I have continued hand knitting...introducing machine knitting and embroidery fulfilling my process. The exploration is always intriguing.

Currently I am back to where I started as a young child, exploring dolls. The dolls I paint are from my own collection. I love to travel, to explore dress, costume, and customs around the globe.

The dress, the doll are metaphors that speak to me about women in other cultures, about sisterhood of all women, about symbols revealed on cloth, about childhood innocence or not, about nourishment and how we hand that down to our children, family members and friends.

The garment speaks.

Julie Artisans Gallery - 1987