This month, our curated collection of workwear is modeled by strong women of the Pittsburgh art world. Business as usual is anything but ordinary for these well-rounded gals, meaning a typical day calls for chic and versatile pieces that go from office to opening – all while exhibiting their unique style. Of all the marvelous things they’ve achieved, their magnum opuses are the profound impacts they’ve had in their field and in their communities.
Meet Akemi May
Tell us a bit about what you do.
As the Assistant Curator of Fine Arts at Carnegie Museum of Art, I am responsible for the care of the paintings, sculpture, drawings and prints created before 1945. A collection as diverse as ours provides enough material and opportunity to organize exhibitions on many different topics. Most recently, I was the curator of an exhibition on the American artist Edward Hopper. Next year, I’m organizing exhibition of Japanese Ukiyo-e woodblock prints by the great master Hiroshige.
Who is your favorite artist, and why do you identify with them?
This is an impossible question to answer. It varies depending on medium and time period. I have a soft spot for Benvenuto Cellini, the Italian Mannerist sculptor whose personality was as remarkable and quixotic as his bronzes. Honestly, it’s really hard to chose just one.
What are a few fun facts about yourself?
I’m an avid cook, gardener, and quilter. I’m a card-carrying member of the Pittsburgh Modern Quilt Guild. Since I started quilting, I have an increased comfort level with incorporating bold color and big graphic patterns (key elements to modern quilt design) into my own wardrobe.
Describe your personal style.
I don’t really adhere to a single style; my wardrobe is fairly eclectic with classic shapes and touches of vintage flair. In general, I love clothes that make me feel confident and comfortable. I gravitate toward pieces with small or unexpected little details; a cute button, bits of embroidery, or pockets can convince me I just have to have it. Even if I’m the only one that knows it’s there, that small detail makes me happy. Since I’m 5’2”, I prefer dresses and skirts over pants. Unless I find just the right petite fit, pants are always a challenge. I hate having to pay extra to get a new pair of pants hemmed, which is why I’m starting to do it myself on my sewing machine at home. Cardigans and scarves are fun yet essential elements to my work outfits – I have A LOT of cardigans. The offices at the museum tend to be chilly and they are my keys to keeping warm and add a nice pop of color.
What do you like to wear to an art opening, gallery event, work meeting, etc.?
A great dress. Especially if it has discreet pockets. When I’m at an event, nothing can be more cumbersome than a purse hanging off my shoulder. I love a dress with pockets so I can stash my phone and a bit of cash and keep my hands free. I often have go right from my desk to an event at the museum, if I plan ahead, I’ll only have to change from flats to heels and be good to go.
+Follow Akemi on Instagram: @akemay
+See what’s up with the Carnegie Museum of art on their website, Instagram, and Facebook
+Read About the Other Inspiring Women Featured This Month >>