Jan. 11, 2017
HONOLULU, HAWAI‘I—In the final weeks of Barack Obama’s presidency, Brooklyn artist Emily Spivack will open a T-shirt “shack” in Honolulu called Medium White Tee. The idea for the installation came to Spivack this past summer after reading the New York Times article “Obama After Dark: The Precious Hours Alone.” She was struck by these lines:
[Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel]… and Mr. Obama once imagined moving to Hawaii to open a T-shirt shack that sold only one size (medium) and one color (white). Their dream was that they would no longer have to make decisions. During difficult White House meetings when no good decision seemed possible, Mr. Emanuel would sometimes turn to Mr. Obama and say, “White.” Mr. Obama would in turn say, “Medium.”
Spivack spent months conceptualizing the space in collaboration with New York-based GRT Architects and securing the elements needed to create the installation with nearly everything donated in-kind. Medium White Tee is an interactive environment where visitors can purchase a medium white T-shirt. The limited-edition shirts cost $44 each—a nod to the 44th presidency. Proceeds from T-shirt sales will benefit the youth-based get-out-the-vote program the Bus Federation Civic Fund and the community food and education non-profit MA‘O Organic Farms.
Among the installation’s supporters is President Obama’s sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng, who gave her brother the very first Medium White Tee as a holiday gift. She will preside over the Jan. 11 opening.
“When I read the Times article, I was moved by the time and care President Obama put into his eight years of service,” said Spivack. “Medium White Tee is a tribute to his accomplishments, to the decisions he didn’t run from. Ultimately it’s a thank you. I hope the space serves as a place for contemplation, to meditate on the very significant role that decision-making should play with any president—past, present, or future. Medium White Tee is a place to consider the decisions we make every day, big or small.”
Medium White Tee is a Honolulu Museum of Art off-site installation.
The artist thanks these contributors who generously donated their resources, talent and time:
· Ward Village provided the installation space
· GRT Architects designed the space
· Stephanie Hsu, a local architect, has been instrumental with ground organizing
· Print All Over Me provided 1,000 USA-made medium white T-shirts
· The space itself is located in the heart of Honolulu’s Ward Village
· HONBLUE provided printing
· Nan Inc. contractors built the space
· Re-Use Hawaii provided raw materials
· CHIPS provided graphic design
· The No. 29 provided public relations and communications support
T-shirts will also be available at mediumwhitetee.com starting Jan. 12.
Medium White Tee is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Contributions for the charitable purposes of Medium White Tee must be made payable to “Fractured Atlas” only. The value of the Medium White Tee is $44. Any contribution above that amount is tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.
About Emily Spivack
Emily is an artist, writer, and editor whose work draws from contemporary culture, clothing and history. Emily launched Worn Stories, a collection of stories she edits from cultural figures and talented storytellers about clothing and memory, in 2010. A New York Times best-selling book, Worn Stories was published by Princeton Architectural Press in Fall 2014. In her monthly column for T: The New York Times Style Magazine, “The Story of a Thing,” she interviews cultural figures about objects in their homes that provide insight into their interests and quirks. Emily has spent six years culling stories about clothing from eBay posts for a website she curates, Sentimental Value, and she has exhibited the Internet found-art project in Philadelphia, Brooklyn, and Portland. Emily is the creator and writer of the Smithsonian’s only blog about the history of clothing, drawing from the institution’s vast collection and beyond, called Threaded. Emily and her work have been featured in The New York Times, New York Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post among other publications.
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