In William Lemon’s Skin
Published October 8, 2009
Even a serpent would refuse to shed the snakeskin patterned T-shirts that William Lemon III has created for Citizens of Humanity. Kicking off the Citizens of Humanity artist collaboration series are the artist musician/ chef and fashion designer’s slinky cool limited edition capsule collection of hand-washed-and-dyed screen-print tee-shirts. The gauzy cotton knit, cap-sleeved and sleeveless V-neck shirts sport the same type of signature prints that the Brooklyn-based native of Santa Clara has used to adorn the flesh of Marc Jacobs, Devendra Banhart, Beck, Chloe Sevigny, Natasha Khan and Supreme Modelling Agency models.
Utterly without the conniving nature of Western history’s most famous snake, Lemon is sincere without being earnest, and principled without pretentention. The art he makes about love has the warm weirdness of Frank Zappa’s Mothers of Invention mixed with Kate Bush’s romanticism. His most recent rock opera, Moon & Moon’s VII Acts of an Iron King, was paired act-by-act with his complementary illustrations. For his first New York solo show this June at the Fuse Gallery, he incorporated slivers of original Andy Warhol canvases into multimedia collages. He presented these potent relics, which he termed “artistic equivalents to the eye of newt” along with a self-portrait installation containing sand and prosthetics, a free hanging deer spine sculpture and intricate mystical tapestries.
For the Citizens of Humanity project, Lemon looked to an idyll for inspiration. “It was about working from a visionary place,” Lemon explains. “I envisioned an outdoor scene and I first saw a snake sunbathing in a field of tall, verdant grass. I also imagined a small stream with a slight waterfall nearby, and these first three images were in my mind became the metaphors for the prints that eventually ended up on the tee-shirts. To the eye they might seem unrelated, but I think to the mind they make perfect sense together.”