close up of red square fabric pieces

Dress Codes

West Gallery
April 13, 2024
May 19, 2024
Erica Spitzer Rasmussen

April 13, 5–7pm

In Dress Codes, Minnesota book artist and sculptor Erica Spitzer Rasmussen creates handmade paper garments to reflect upon the childhood myths and adult anxieties about her body.

Artist Talk: Wednesday, April 24, 6:30pm 
Free and open to the public. For ASL interpretation and/or other accommodations, please contact by April 17.

Educator & Visitor Guide: This guide is designed as a resource for all visitors, especially college educators and their students, who are eager to engage meaningfully with the artwork on view in the gallery. The content in this guide offers a range of learning opportunities and styles, with the goals of building observational skills, encouraging dialogue, cultivating critical thinking and personal reflection, and ultimately, appreciating art as a form of learning, understanding, and creating a pathway for building empathy, relationships and community at St. Kate’s and beyond.

When I was a little girl, my father told me that eating tomatoes would make me “big, strong and hairy chested.” I avoided eating tomatoes 
for twenty years. 

As a general rule, my sculptural work is inspired by childhood myths and adult anxieties regarding my body. Like my childhood association between the consumption of tomatoes and the growth of chest hair, I sometimes find body-stories or body-experiences to be simultaneously comical and horrifying.  It is often these extremes in emotional reactions that drive me to produce the work, in an attempt to better 
comprehend each situation. 

I use clothing as subject matter because it provides me a ground on which to investigate identity and corporeality. My garments are metaphors. They can encompass narrative qualities, illustrate and dissolve bodily fears, or act as talismanic devices. 

Handmade paper is at the core of every work. Paper speaks of the vulnerability of the flesh, as well as the delicate nature of the psyche. In addition to utilizing paper, I often incorporate unconventional media into my work. I choose to use such non-archival media as dehydrated tomatoes, fish skins, sausage casings and human hair, because the materials assist in my storytelling. I conjure work that may be transitory in nature, but rich in surfaces and sentiments.

Erica Spitzer Rasmussen is an artist who creates handmade paper garments and small editions of hand-bound books. She received her BFA and MFA at the University of Minnesota (Minneapolis), which included coursework in Mexico and Greece. Her current work explores
family stories and issues of identity. Rasmussen is a recipient of the 2018 Minnesota Book Artist Award and various grants from the Minnesota State Arts Board (1999, 2015, 2018). Otherprofessional highlights include a papermaking residency in Vienna, Austria (2010), a solo exhibition in Mexico City, Mexico (2012) and bookbinding residencies in Venice, Italy (2016, 2018, 2022). Her work has been featured in such magazines as FiberArts, Surface Design Journal, American Craft and Hand Papermaking. Rasmussen teaches studio arts as a full professor at Metropolitan State University in St. Paul, Minnesota. Her artwork is exhibited internationally, and it resides in such collections as the Fuller Craft Museum (Brockton, MA), the Minneapolis Institute of Art (Minneapolis, MN), Minnesota Center for Book Arts (Minneapolis, MN), the Minnesota History Center (St. Paul, MN), Ripley’s Believe it or Not! Museum (Hollywood, CA), Stanford University Libraries (Stanford, CA), Carleton College (Northfield, MN), the Library of Congress (Washington D.C.), and the Biblioteca Nazionale Braidense (Milan, Italy). 

Instagram: erica_spitzer_rasmussen


Artist Talk: A Conversation with Erica Spitzer Rasmussen
Wednesday,April 24, 6:30 pm
Erica Spitzer Rasmussen discuss the work in her exhibition, 
moderated by Gallery Director Nicole Watson.