The month of February saw 10 new regulars around downtown Columbia. Stylishly outfitted, they were spotted striking a pose through store windows, at a bank and hanging out at the art league. Each unique, they all had one thing in common: They were mannequins, made with care and purpose for a magical Saturday night.
Ten artists, seven of them from Columbia, were asked by MU’s College of Human Environmental Sciences to decorate a donated mannequin in the style of their choice with whatever materials they saw fit. Various downtown businesses displayed the mannequins, transformed with everything from watercolor and paper to wire, washers and telephone pieces.
Called the Mannequin Magic Project, the monthlong display culminates at 6 p.m. Saturday with a dinner and auction of the mannequins at the Tiger Hotel. The goal is to raise $15,000.
Proceeds from the $75 ticket sales, silent auction featuring more than 60 combinations of goods and live auction of the mannequins will be used by the College of Human Environmental Sciences to improve storage space for the Missouri Historic Costume and Textile Collection.
“The collection seems to grow daily, and of course the more publicity it gets, the faster it grows, which is both wonderful and terrible, because we have to find a place to put it all,” said Laurel Wilson, curator of the collection and associate professor in the textile and apparel management department.
Currently, the collection, which includes more than 6,000 pieces and dates back to the 16th century, is stored in two small closets behind the women’s restroom in Stanley Hall. The goal is to renovate an unused laboratory in Gwynn Hall to be temperature and climate controlled. Wilson estimated the project would cost $180,000.
Mannequin Magic offered artists an opportunity to work on a different canvas. For Columbia artist Kate Gray, it was the perfect opportunity to stretch herself. With a focus on inner beauty, Gray wrapped her mannequin, “i am,” in watercolor paper and then painted it, focusing on emotion.
“It’s threadlike in a way — one thought might lead to another and blend into something else,” Gray said. “Emotion free-falls: It cries, it dances, it sings. I had to let the paint go where it wanted.”
Mannequin Magic took two years from planning to completion, and many artists were able to work on their mannequins for seven to eight months.
“I will be sorry to see it go. I had it in my dining room for about six months and got kind of used to seeing it there,” said Tootie Burns, a Columbia resident and creator of “Piece by Piece II.” Burns’ design, created with many pieces of glass, took 50 hours to complete.
The Mannequin Magic Dinner & Auction will begin with a cocktail and silent auction hour. Items up for bid range from a Lake of the Ozarks weekend golf trip to gift baskets and spa packages. Following the dinner will be a live auction of the 10 mannequins. All items and materials for both auctions were donated.
For information about the dinner or to buy tickets, call the College of Human and Environmental Sciences at 884-9081.