Detail of Red Zipper Dress Kresge Art Museum
Introduction Events Lectures Workshop Film Creative Kids

Detail of Red Zipper DressDetail of Red Zipper Dress

Cat Chow (American, born 1973)
Zipper Dress, 1999
A single length of zipper,
approx. 100 yards
Loan from the artist

Cat Chow, Heavy Metal
Cat Chow (American, born 1973)
Heavy Metal, 1999
Stainless steel, brass rings
Loan from the artist

Cat Chow working
Photo by Robert Crawford

Cat Chow, Measure for Measure
Cat Chow (American, born 1973)
Sk(e)in, 1999
Loan from the artist
CAT CHOW Second Skin  at Kresge Art Museum

Kresge Art Museum is pleased to present nearly twenty of contemporary artist Cat (Catherine) Chow’s personal and poetic garments fabricated from the stuff of daily life. Her “fabric” may be made of interwoven dollar bills, flat washers, one long zipper, corks, brass rings or rubber O-rings, twist ties, plastic hospital I.D. bracelets, or even dress snaps. With exquisite craftsmanship, she creates the fabric in units of perfect regularity. She “often finds this tedious work relaxing,” she says. “I inherited the patience from my Buddhist father and the obsessiveness from my mother.” Once Chow has created the fabric, she begins the construction of the garment. The simple, elegant shaping results in a beautifully conceived and proportioned fluidity in the finished garment.

Cat Chow was born in 1973 and received her B.A. in Theatre from Northwestern University where she became interested in costume design. In the late 1990s she worked in a theater prop store that specialized in medieval costumes, and she learned how to make chain mail (a type of armour or jewelry that consists of small metal rings linked together in a pattern to form a mesh). She cites highly quirky sculptors who use unexpected materials like Tom Friedman and Donald Lipski as inspiration. She also plays guitar in a rock band, and when she stages a fashion show it looks like the finale of a rock concert. A short video on Cat Chow will play continuously during the show.

For more information about Cat Chow, visit her website at

Cat Chow: Second Skin was organized by the Society for Contemporary Craft, Pittsburgh, PA.

Tuesday, May 16, 12:10 p.m.

Speaker: April Kingsley, KAM Curator. FREE.

EVENTS (back to top)
Opening Reception and Cat Walk for Cat Chow
Wednesday, May 10, 5:30-7:30 p.m., Cat Walk at 6:15 p.m.

Fashion meets art in this runway extravaganza and opening reception hosted by the Friends of Kresge. Inspired by Cat Chow’s artistic garments, student costume and apparel designers and artists will model their innovative wearable creations out of recyclable or recycled materials. Challenged with a minimal budget and short timeframe, they will unveil their fashions on the Kresge cat walk. View photos from the Cat Walk.

Cat Chow, Measure for Measure
Cat Chow (American, born 1973)
Kabloom!, 2005
A single length of zipper
Loan from Paul Klein, Chicago IL

Picnic and a Play: A Day in Hollywood/A Night in the Ukraine
Thursday , June 22, 6:30 p.m.

Please join the Friends of Kresge Art Museum and Friends of Summer Circle Theatre for the second annual Picnic and a Play. Bring your picnic blankets and enjoy a boxed meal on the banks of the Red Cedar River, south of the Audrium building, in the reserved lawn area or bleacher seats for Summer Circle Theater. Then enjoy the 8 p.m. performance of A Day in Hollywood/A Night in the Ukraine by Dick Vosburgh & Frank Lazarus. Directed by Rob Roznowski, the hilarious play combines a musical revue of 1930s movie musicals with a spoof of a Marx Brothers movie. Before the performance, costume designer Karen Kangas-Preston will discuss the process of costume design from concept to construction. To reserve your meal, please mail payment by Friday, June 16. Boxed meal: $12.50 per person
. Download a registration form here.

LECTURES (back to top)
Pattern Language: Cat Chow Unzipped
Tuesday, June 27, 7 p.m., Psychology Building (Old Physics Building located directly across KAM parking lot, Room 118)

Speaker: Cat Chow, Artist
Cat Chow will present her work and how it is informed and inspired by other groundbreaking fashion designers and conceptual artists. FREE.

Art + Fashion: 1960s to the Present
Wednesday, July 12, 7 p.m.

Speaker: Sally Helvenston Gray, Associate Professor of Human Ecology and Apparel and Textile, MSU Department of Human Environment and Design
Apparel design expert Dr. Helvenston Gray will explore fashion design from the 1960s to the present. FREE.

Ordinary Materials, Extraordinary Creations
Wednesday, June 28, 6–9 p.m.

Instructor: Cat Chow, Artist
Cat Chow will lead this special art making workshop. Participants will recombine common materials to fabricate a sculpture, perhaps a dress or a bag or just a great work of art! Space is limited. Fee: $35 Friends of Kresge; $40 general public

FILM (back to top)
Ready to Wear (1994), Rated R
Wednesday, July 26, 7 p.m., East Lansing Public Library, 950 Abbott Road

Director Robert Altman (M*A*S*H, The Player) points his lens at the fashion industry and weaves his own comic fabric with the impossibly self-absorbed stories of the characters in this biting satire of the fashion world. Altman’s comedy boasts one of his most star-studded casts, and actors who are playing fictional characters intermingle with popular designers and models who play themselves. Refreshments will be provided. Sponsored by East Lansing Public Library. FREE.

FREE Kids’ Guides for Cat Chow: Second Skin are available at the museum desk. These fun, interactive guides are designed for kids and adults to use together when touring the museum and for art-making inspired by the exhibition.

During the exhibition, Creative Kids can contribute to an interactive community art project inspired by the creations of Cat Chow by adding unusual materials to a mannequin in the museum (washers, Life-savers, O-rings). Bring your own (small) items from home or use the materials provided. Visit the museum often to watch the garment take shape. The final product will be on display in August at the East Lansing Public Library.