When was the last time you played? Like really played? It’s easy to forget as we live out our adult lives, filled with responsibilities and existential crises. One visit to the Autry Museum’s current exhibit, “Play!,” will swiftly remind you of those bygone days where make-believe wasn’t ludicrous and toys and games predated smartphones.
Creatively curated by Carolyn Brucken, “Play!” explores the history and means through which children have played in the American West. While it’s interactive and fun, it also takes a didactic look at the social significance toys have had in our lives and how they’ve affected our social and cultural views on gender, race and class. All these factors have contributed to the imaginative worlds we create as children.
As a fashion and lifestyle blogger of Bard + Paul, we explored the ways in which adults assimilate “play” into fashion as a means of creative self-expression (something second-nature for kids). Ashley Bard and I were lucky to work with Voor Pret for this collaboration — their adorable playsuits were the perfect fit for cartwheeling and story time in “Play’s!” first gallery, “Go Outside!”
Gender plays a big role in the miniature midcentury-modern display, “Learning to be a Grown Up,” which we emulated in our theatrical, stereotypically “female” 1950s looks.
Technology and TV have expanded the spheres of our imagination, as illustrated in the next display, “Make Believe.” Parasite Eyewear’s futuristic sunnies sealed the deal in our funky reimagining of 80s/90s cyber wear. To our utter, nerdy delight, Parasite sent along a special surprise — their limited edition Star Wars glasses! This pretty much dictated our final look, an ode to our favorite galactic couple — Han and Leia.
The incredible theater set, with sliding backdrops and costumes for children and adults alike, is undoubtedly our favorite display. Returning to normalcy from our galactic performance wasn’t easy, but the memory lives on in our childlike hearts.
This collaboration would be near impossible without the genius of photographer Dana Tarr. As usual, we are lucky to work with such a creative visionary.
“Play!” will run through January 7th, 2018, so don’t miss this fantastic exhibit. The Autry Museum’s other galleries are fascinating, too, so plan a whole day — you won’t be disappointed!