I think about aprons a lot: the fancy barista aprons, all selvedge denim and real leather straps, the frilly fifties housewife apron, the floor-length butcher's apron, the disposable flimsy plastic apron and my all-time favorite, the battered all-leather blacksmith apron.
No apron is ever neutral. This is a work garment. It has things to say and codes of conduct. It is respected or mistreated, imposed, revered, earned, color-coded, beloved or despised.
Back in the 16th century, the top part of the apron was often pinned a woman's blouse and decorated with embroidery. This apron top evolved into the "stomacher" an extravagant garment that became more and more embroidered and decorated until it no longer looked anything like an apron and was worn exclusively by people who did not have to work.
So yes, aprons have a long and complicated relationship with work and power.
My own series of embroidered aprons offers a playful alternative to the usual work uniforms. The aprons are hand-embroidered and personalized. They hang from the neck and shoulders but protect the stomach.
Like the stomachers of old, these aprons are for show. Something fun and beautifully crafted, far remote from the reality of the day-to-day green Starbucks apron. Each apron is embroidered with symbols related to work and power.
If you are in Houston, all five aprons are shown though October 31, 2020 at the Community Artist Collective, 4101 San Jacinto St Suite 116, Houston, TX 77004.
Or you can click on the link below for a short video preview:
Finally many thanks to Jay Nance Photography for the photo shoot and to Mary Brown, Kelsey Cutherell, Sara Cadena and Aaron Fernandez for modeling the aprons.