John Bartlett is exhibiting at the Cincinnati Art Museum. (JOHN BARTLETT: DREAMING IN DARKNESS runs from November 15, continuing through Feb. 1, 2004) So below is a little feature about him…
John Bartlett didn’t plan on becoming an internationally-famous fashion designer. He studied sociology at Harvard and economics in London. Then he decided to follow his dream.
“Do what you love,” his father told him, “and then you will be able to give back 10-fold.”
Bartlett followed his father’s advice and began his studies at Fashion Institute of Technology in New York
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When he began to design men’s and women’s clothing, Bartlett, a native of Cincinnati’s East side, aimed to challenge, shock and cajole. “When I first started,” Bartlett says, “it was very much about, ‘How can I shock you and get your attention?’ Now it’s ‘How can I communicate what’s inside?’ “
“Gender is fascinating to me,” Bartlett says. “In terms of what’s masculine and what’s feminine: How do men and women borrow from each other — or not? And is it OK for men to borrow from women? Is it OK if they look feminine? I’ve always loved that sort of dialogue.”
Bartlett recently built an art studio in his New York apartment, where he makes collage art. He also DJs in clubs, writes for fashion magazines and designs a small line of men’s suits. A man who built a career on dialogue about appearance, Bartlett now focuses within.
“I’ve found a lot of external validation through the years,” he says, “and now I want to find the validation on the inside.”