Exhibit suits IUCA+D to a T

If you’re like me, you’ve got entire drawers full of T-shirts. But somehow, those shirts are much more than just an item of clothing. In a way, they represent my personal history — the theme for my high school marching band’s senior show, the Greek letters adopted by my floor at a private Midwestern university, the cream and crimson of my current hometown.

Maybe that’s why the newest exhibit at the Indiana University Center for Art + Design caught my eye. Dubbed “Ubiqui-tee: T-shirts Design Culture,” the exhibit showcases more than 100 T-shirts from IU’s Sage Collection, with selected examples from the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction; Mathers Museum of World Cultures; Monroe County History Center; Children’s Museum of Indianapolis; and the Indiana State Museum; as well as private collections.

t-shirt exhibit

This t-shirt exhibit is on display now at the IUCA+D in Columbus, Ind.

The exhibit is on display through June 29 at the IUCA+D, 310 N. Jackson St., Columbus, Ind. Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and noon to 5 p.m. Saturday.

Here’s a brief history of the T-shirt via the Sage Collection:

“The T-shirt has evolved from its humble origins as a man’s undergarment to one of the most ubiquitous pieces of clothing in our closets. Worn by all ages and social classes, it is a billboard for beliefs, an expression of aesthetic values and the spirit of our times.

The U.S. Navy adopted the crew-neck white cotton jersey t-shirt as a regulation undergarment in 1913, and the Army followed in 1942. Men serving in tropical climates during World War II brought it back to the states where it was worn for outdoor activities. The increased casualization of dress and emphasis on sports, leisure and teenage culture in the 1950s and 1960s fostered the explosive growth of this garment. T-shirts printed with TV and movie characters were marketed to children and their parents. Film stars such as James Dean and Marlon Brando were pictured in T-shirts both on and off screen, and the plain white T-shirt became a badge of youthful rebellion and the working class.

Today, printed T-shirts function as protest signs, souvenirs for treasured memories, political propaganda and proof of participation. We advertise our affinities for products and services, sports teams, musical artists and entertainment icons. T-shirts become incorporated into our important rites of passage, advertise the causes about which we feel passionate and serve as canvases for creativity.”

The exhibit is made possible by the College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Apparel Merchandising and Interior Design and the Endowment by Bill Blass to Friends of the Sage Collection.

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