The Jostens Gallery of the Customs House Museum & Cultural Center will feature the sculptural dresses of Belgin Yucelen through Jan. 12. 

The exhibition, titled “Semblance,” will consist of garments portraying a past culture’s sophistication. Yucelen creates her dresses similar to the Turkish styles of the 17th through 19th centuries. She used traditional techniques and materials from Turkey and other parts of Asia to add embellishments to the metal dresses. 

Belgin believes on an individual level, clothing is a visual metaphor for identity. The communication through the language of clothing epitomizes our modesty, social status and addresses the themes of place, memory and family and opens up possibilities for disguise.

In the gallery, the garments float freely, suspended from the ceiling. Shadows created on the walls highlight the adorning embroideries and jewels. The simplicity of shapes, the beauty of the embellishments and the lightness of fabrics move these works into contemporary time. 

From one such copper piece, “Silk Robe with Tulip,” the turquoise flower prominently stands out from the shadowed image. 

“I chose the color turquoise because it was widely used in Ottoman tiles and pottery,” Yucelen said. “As a gemstone, turquoise was originally mined in Persia and traded along the Silk Road through Turkey to Europe. The French named the stone after the Turkish traders they came across.” In Holland between 1634 and 1637 single tulip bulbs of certain types could be sold for the equivalent sum of a townhouse in the best quarters of Amsterdam. In the Ottoman Empire, tulips were also greatly esteemed and repeatedly used as a motif in architecture and crafts.”

Yucelen studied sculpture at the Florence Academia D'Arte in Florence, University of Colorado at Boulder, Art Students League of Denver and Scottsdale Art School. She is a recipient of grants, including the 2018 Moon and Stars project grant, 2017 and 2018 fellow by the Clark Hulings Fund, 2018 Kristal Martı award by KALID, 2017 Tending Space Fellowship for Artists by Hemera Foundation, and she is a National Sculpture Society elected member. 

Her work was publicized in Fort Morgan Times, Pittsburgh Articulate, The Tribune Review, Les Femmes Folles, the Daily Camera, Chicago Reader, The Examiner and Reporter Herald. Yucelen is the founder of House of Serein, which is a creative space designed for community use and studios for artists and freelancers in Boulder, Colorado.

The Customs House Museum & Cultural Center is the one of the largest general-interest museums in Tennessee and can be found at the corner of Second and Commerce streets. For more information on Semblance, contact Terri Jordan, exhibits curator, at 931-648-5780, ext. 2038 or terri@customshousemuseum.org.

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