Interview with Artist/Famous Fashion Designer/Badass, Elisa Jimenez.

Oh, how afflicted are we, Austinites. Once again, we are faced with too many fun things to do this weekend!

(And non-Austinites, I hope you’ll excuse the smug tone. If it makes you feel better, we are currently melting in the streets. Is it boiling where you are?)

Anyway. Tonight is Andy Warhol’s birthday party, which surely warrants a whole post within itself. Oh look, here’s one. Also, there is The Runway for Peace Fashion Show tomorrow night at Club DeVille, benefitting the Amala Foundation. I am actually going to be in that show (which should be interesting, seeing as how I can’t even walk on level ground that well), so I’ll post details on it tomorrow.

Are you all linked out yet? Because I am.

So! Let’s get to the meat-and-potatoes of this post, which is a special Q&A with Project Runway alum, one of Vogue‘s “Top Ten Independent American Designers,” and interdisciplinary artist Elisa Jimenez.

When I heard Jimenez was going to be doing a show/party at Domy Books this weekend, I thought: “Jimenez…Elisa Jimenez…where do I know that name?” And then I remembered:


Did you all see Elisa on Project Runway, Season 4?  She was the one who rubbed grass on her fabric. Tim Gunn was all: “Ah — grass? Make it … work?”

I loved her right away.

But besides the fact that Elisa was refreshingly mellow and down-to-earth about the whole PR thing, I also remembered hearing that several years ago, in 2004, she had been hit by a car. So hard, in fact, that she was effectively dead for a few minutes.

Isn’t that nuts?

Today, Elisa is obviously alive, and thoroughly well-received in both the art and fashion communities. She has this bizarre, entrancing project called “The Hunger World,” a cast of marionettes ranging from 2 inches to 30 feet in height, that sometimes does fashion shows. She’s a darling of Paper Magazine, Nylon, Elle, Vogue, and commands the kind of clientele you’d expect from the avante-garde-embracing fashion set. Sarah Jessica Parker, Pink, Sylvia Tosun. (Yoo-hoo, Chloë Sevigny!)

However, I was always under the impression that Elisa was a New York girl, through-and-through. But as it turns out, she’s a UT ’88 Art Department Grad. Her mom even lives in Bastrop!

A ginormous, peacock feather in UT’s cap, I’d say.

Elisa will be in town this weekend for two fashion events:

She was so kind to stop by Austin Eavesdropper and answer some questions for us about the 88 show, which thoroughly intrigued me. Below, Elisa and I chat it up.

Hi Elisa! Thanks for swinging by Austin Eavesdropper. First question: Describe this “88” event to us. It sounds so cool and interesting that I have a hard time wrapping my brain around it.

Hi Tolly! Thank you for your time and attention. The 88 show is really a remarkable curatorial event because it basically encapsulates a group of us who all were at UT Art Dept in ’88, when our works and concepts were being supported by our professors, but were being censored due to content or method. So, we created our own “alternative” force of showing and supporting our works.

Often these experiences had potlucks and music and art in a communal and avante atmosphere. Later, Andy Cooquit realized that our sheer art bravado had richly inspired a “we can do it for ourselves” momentum in Austin. Many of the artists in 88 were vanguards in both the history of art and Austin without even knowing it. 88 celebrates this unknowingness.

Wow. I love your phrase “art bravado,” especially since some of your art in particular begs audience interaction. In what ways will your show be interactive?

Well, my piece “popmythicpop” is a referential performance to object. In 88 I was doing life-size pop-up toys in wood and cardboard which dealt with sexuality, specifically the rapes of Zeus, and my own sexuality mythified into folkloric imagery…a lot of wolves. Beginning at Domy Bookstore, 5 performer/models will have the runway backstage process with hair done by Mark of Birds Barbershop, and make-up by Shirley of W3ll (just on the tail of launching her LA store!) in front of all and then “patadesque-style” walking over to OK Mountain Gallery. Then, at 9:30 the “runway” layer of the piece will occur, then a revealing after the “runway” where performance becomes artobject.

The other aspect of interacting will come the next day as well with a pop-up sale at W3LL from 2-5pm with prices 1/4 retail and 1/7 gallery. These pieces will be different from 88, in that they are “ready mades,” while the works in 88 are couture based “storytelling” dressings. They will be available via OK Mountain Gallery.

For readers of Austin Eavesdropper who may be catching onto you for the first time Elisa, how do YOU describe yourself when people ask what you’re all about? Like in the little space for “occupation” at the doctor’s office. How the hell do you answer that.

I usually referred to myself as an interdisciplinary artist, but I have been referred to as everything from an avatar, to interloper to trickster. Depends on the crowd.

Last question. How long will you be in Austin? Also: How can we get you to move here?

I will be in Austin till the 9th and my mom just built her dream home in Bastrop so I will be coming home a lot! You can the girl out of Texas, but you can’t take the Texas out of the girl!

*Photo credits to, Domy Bookstore, and Elisa Jimenez for “Chastity/Lust,” an example of her fashion/art work.

**Special thanks to Erin Portman, part of the Austin Eavesdropper sponsor Birds Barbershop, for hooking up this interview for me!