Jeffrey Means means to expose the tyranny of the fashion industry
Is this any way to treat your mother?
Glue up her eyelids, tape back her cheeks, dress her in fishnet stockings, then tell her to say cheese?
That's exactly what Jeffrey Means asked his 62-year-old mother, Jean, to do for his exhibit, "Glamour Puss: The Transformation of a Star," at the Maryland Institute, College of Art through Dec. 22.
In the last year, the Institute senior shot thousands of pictures of Ms. Means as an aging fashion model and plastic surgery patient. Having her pose in everything from a vinyl miniskirt to a surgical cap had a point, he says.
"I'm hoping the viewer will look at how the fashion industry dictates people's lives. These images totally confuse women and men. And a lot of it isn't real. It's makeup or plastic," says Mr. Means, 22.
He turned to his mother because she was the antithesis of the character he was out to create. Ms. Means was happy to help out her son with a school project. Only once did she grouse about her get-up: a leopard-print bikini and stiletto heels.
Says Mr. Means, "She walked out and said, 'What I do for my children.' " Nearly everywhere she goes, art goes with Beverly Carter.
Whether it's a beaded doll in her pocketbook, a crayon drawing in her car or paintings in her office, she's never far from things of beauty.
This, she says, is her antidote to dealing with crime every day as the executive assistant to the Baltimore state's attorney.
"With this job, you see the worst in life. . . . For me, art is the balance," says Ms. Carter, a fortysomething lawyer who lives in Mount Washington.
This week, she'll introduce 3,000 children to nearly 100 decorated trees -- works of art themselves -- as a volunteer with the Festival of Trees. (The benefit for the Kennedy Krieger Institute takes place today through Dec. 13 at Festival Hall).
She learned to love art as a child. In 1986, she and her mother opened a gallery for emerging artists. The space has since closed, but they still do art consulting.
As for becoming an artist herself, Ms. Carter says that was never a possibility.
"I have no talent," she says. "Drawing stick people was the best I could do."