You are invited to a ball. All the right people will be there: Queen Elizabeth I, Queens Mary and Anne, Queen Victoria, Catherine the Great, Marie Antoinette, as well as some lesser-known but equally compelling characters such as Bess of Hardwick, Madame Pompadour and Queen Marie Leszczyńska.
Linda Ganstrom's Sabbatical Exhibition, "Bell(e)s: Celebrating Women of Remarkable Influence," will open at 6:30 Friday, Aug. 24, in the Moss-Thorns Gallery of Art on the Fort Hays State University campus as part of the Hays Fall Gallery Walk. Ganstrom is a professor of art and design at FHSU.
The public is invited to dust off its fanciest ball gowns or wedding dresses -- many still influenced by European ball gowns -- and join Ganstrom at 6:30 p.m. for a photograph.
"I plan to wear the ball gown I wore to Governor Kathleen Sebelius's Inaugural Ball," said Ganstrom. "You are most warmly invited to participate in 'Bell(e)s' as a performance piece and let your extraordinary light shine."
The reception will have English tea and French desserts. A film will give context and the installation will transform the gallery into a European experience.
"Bell(e)s" expands on Ganstrom's recent series dealing with extraordinary characters and the butterfly-effect-chaos theory by investigating European women of power and influence. These contemporary figures sculpted from porcelain paper clay are hybrids of various types of figurative forms: statues, religious icons, effigy sculptures, figurines in porcelain, pandoras and dolls.
Pandoras were miniature fashion dolls wearing an exact replica of the latest haute couture, sent to ladies all over Europe so they could order on-trend fashions.
"I began my sabbatical studies hoping to expand my understanding of European influence on contemporary style by reading, research and language lessons," said Ganstrom. "My research began with my curiosity about the popularity of European design elements in contemporary life: in graphic design, on wall-paper, on textile design, in fashion, art and ceramics. Scrollwork and chandeliers seem to be everywhere. I pondered about how our heritage of design is internalized."
The exhibit consists of 13 life-size figurative sculptures inspired by European women and three figures based on figures from India and America.
The exhibition will be on display until September 21.