Eva Preston, Archives AlchemyEva Preston, The Boat Ride, mixed media, torn and cut paper from recycled books, magazines, posters and artificial flags colored pencils, 5′ x 6′, $1800.00, Archives Alchemy, Philadelphia Dumpster Divers at the National Archives

Eva Preston, Mixed Media Artist

Eva Preston is a mixed media artist who makes art into fashion and fashion into art. Her goal is to up-cycle materials she finds into works of art that extend the life of the materials that would likely end up at the dump. That’s why she’s an integral member of the famous Dumpster Divers of Philadelphia. ‘The Dumpster Divers of Philadelphia are a group of over 40 found object artists, their artwork as diverse as the group and materials used. They were officially recognized with a 2012 City of Philadelphia Mayor’s Tribute for “helping to raise the consciousness of art lovers and heightened awareness of taking a creative approach to support a more sustainable city, country and world.’ Eva is also on the board of directors of the Philadelphia chapter of The Women’s Caucus for Art whose mission is to to create community through art, education, and social activism.

The art she creates is enigmatic, mysterious, sensual and metaphoric from up-cycled handbags decoupaged with historical figures from R&B artists James Brown and Billy Holiday to Philadelphia opera phenomenon Marion Anderson. Collaged artworks with ethnic memes and art objects made from disparate pieces of junk are transformed into desirable objects and fashions like no other. The results are as serious and deep as a history lesson yet fun and fanciful as a fast dance. Eva is an artist who cares about society, the plight of women and children and communicating the stories of those who can’t speak for themselves. But, she is a fierce fashionista who loves to look beautiful, wear stylish clothes and quirky accessories like a rock star. And she’s a loving grand-mom who would really rather play on the floor with the kids. When you’re around her there’s an aura of happiness, love and compassion that has a vibrance and vivacity that enlightens the world with her personality and her artwork.

“With Artwork displayed in numerous  International Art tours and exhibits, galleries, museums, and other institutions, including the Philadelphia Free LibrarySmithsonian InstituteAmerican Women’s Heritage SocietyArt for AIDSJohn Heinz National Wildlife RefugeThe Department of Commerce Travel Exhibits in the Caribbean and an Exhibit at  The Philadelphia International Airport and The Art Gallery at City Hall in City Hall Philadelphia. Eva has received numerous awards for her Artwork and community services; She also received The Jewel Award from the City of Philadelphia and 5 different awards from the State of Pennsylvania at the 2012 Women’s History Image Awards.” – Eva Preston artist’s bio

Eva Preston, ECO + FASHION

Eva PrestonECO+FASHIONArt Gallery at City Hall, Philadelphia City Hall, Broad and Market Streets, Room 116, through February 28th, 2014

I wrote about Eva’s work with The Women’s Caucus for Art Philadelphia in DoNArTNeWs back in April 2012 for their Stop Slavery Now: A Conversation About Human Trafficking fundraising campaign. The group makes rag dolls to raise awareness and funds to help stop human trafficking and her art has even been selected for WCA International Caucus & United Nations Art Program. A work of art created by Eva Preston and Joanna Fulginiti on behalf of The Ragdoll Project was chosen to be included in Half The Sky, an exhibition to be presented at LuXun Academy of Fine Arts Art Gallery in Shenyang, China, April 2014.

The Women’s Caucus for Art was founded in 1972 in connection with the College Art Association (CAA). WCA is a national member organization unique in its multidisciplinary, multicultural membership of artists, art historians, students, educators, and museum professionals. The mission of the Women’s Caucus for Art is to create community through art, education, and social activism. WCA is committed to recognizing the contribution of women in the arts; providing women with leadership opportunities and professional development; expanding networking and exhibition opportunities for women; supporting local, national and global art activism; and advocating for equity in the arts for all.”

Currently you can view Eva Preston‘s art at The Art Gallery at Philadelphia City Hall and at The National Archives. In both shows Eva is presenting fashion accessories that are decoupaged with printed paper from classic comics to the U.S. Constitution on clothes and accessories. The Archives Alchemy show at the National Archives uses materials the archives were disposing of after digitally archiving or simply because they were disintegrating. The large collage called The Boat Ride looks like it has always been hanging in the room, the historic resonance feels authentic, telling the story of how Americans became American, The pieces in the ECO+FASHION show at Art in City Hall are fabulously attractive and fashionable yet they use very humble, recycled materials to create a vibrant style statement. For me, the men’s shoes are a stand out. Fashion is usually about women but here Eva shows how much she loves men and wants them to look not just good but smoking hot. The shoes pay homage to super-heroes, historic figures and comic legends representing all that men can be.

Tu Huynh, City Hall Exhibitions Manager at City of Philadelphia says:

“Most artists create works that are about something, and then there are artists whose works are extensions of who they are. This may be a typical attribute of a Philadelphia Dumpster Diver, where one can easily recognize the work of art, the artist, and the thing we call art as inseparable. Eva Preston’s fashion accessories in ECO+FASHION is her art worn on her sleeve – or in this case over her shoulders as they are bags. Her tributes to James Brown and Gene Autry are simply a fabulous celebration of life itself. It’s the love of memory, the beauty of life. Call it art, an historical appropriation, a narrative, a utilitarian object. Call it what you like. It’s all Eva”

Eva Preston, ECO + FASHION

Eva PrestonECO+FASHION, The Art Gallery at City Hall, Philadelphia City Hall, Broad and Market Streets, Room 116, through February 28th, 2014, Classic Comic ‘s Cowboy Style!!! Men’s shoes, leather with decoupage comics.

Eva Preston, Archives Alchemy

Eva PrestonArchives Alchemy: The Art of the Dumpster Divers, through April 24, 2014. Location: National Archives at Philadelphia, 900 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107-4292 (Entrance on Chestnut Street)

Eva Preston has distinguished herself as an exhibitor of many Art forms. She is famous for her Mixed Media Art. Eva’s art is made from recycled materials, found objects, textiles, photos and torn paper. She tells stories through her artwork with unique patterns, shapes, architecture and construction. She is a self-taught artist from Philadelphia and a hands-on visionary Artist. As a Collector and Historian, Eva dives into the past and retrieves old prints and photographs. She is also a Set Designer, Mask Maker and has taught Mask Design in high schools, art centers and colleges. Her techniques are seamless and smooth to the touch and eye.

Her Fashion Lines Aanya318handbags & A’Vance318mens were featured in many International Magazines including HAUTE HANDBAGS, ALTERED COUTURE and AMERICAN STYLE. Both fashion lines appeared in Philadelphia Fashion Week and many Domestic and International runway shows. She has collaborations and exhibits’ with art groups, colleagues, museums, fashion houses and accessory companies.” – artist’s statement

Eva Preston, Archives Alchemy

Eva PrestonArchives AlchemyThe Art of the Dumpster Diversthrough April 24, 2014. Men’s shoes, leather with decoupage U. S Constitution, Article 11.

“The Eleventh Amendment, which was the first Constitutional amendment after the adoption of the Bill of Rights, was adopted following the Supreme Court’s ruling in Chisholm v. Georgia, 2 U.S. 419 (1793). In Chisholm, the Court ruled that federal courts had the authority to hear cases in law and equity brought by private citizens against states and that states did not enjoy sovereign immunity from suits made by citizens of other states in federal court. Thus, the amendment clarified Article III, Section 2 of the Constitution, which gave diversity jurisdiction to the judiciary to hear cases “between a state and citizens of another state.” – wikipedia

“The Judicial power of the United States shall not be construed to extend to any suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of the United States by Citizens of another State, or by Citizens or Subjects of any Foreign State. The eleventh amendment to the Constitution of the United States was proposed to the legislatures of the several States by the Third Congress, on the 4th of March 1794; and was declared in a message from the President to Congress, dated the 8th of January, 1798, to have been ratified by the legislatures of three-fourths of the States. The dates of ratification were: New York, March 27, 1794; Rhode Island, March 31, 1794; Connecticut, May 8, 1794; New Hampshire, June 16, 1794; Massachusetts, June 26, 1794; Vermont, between October 9, 1794 and November 9, 1794; Virginia, November 18, 1794; Georgia, November 29, 1794; Kentucky, December 7, 1794; Maryland, December 26, 1794; Delaware, January 23, 1795; North Carolina, February 7, 1795. Ratification was completed on February 7, 1795.” – americasfreedom.com

Eva Preston is an artist, philanthropist and activist who helps us shed the veil over our eyes to bad things in the world through beauty and love. We have to help stop slavery, so she makes rag dolls. We have to end discrimination, so she shares her history and facts in her art. We all need love, so she shares it freely with her friends and the world. We have to stop destroying the world, so she collects the discards and turns trash into treasure.

Thank you Eva for making the world a better place to live.


Written and photographed by DoN Brewer except where noted.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

admin February 17, 2014 at 9:38 pm

Eva Preston’s contributions to the The Ragdoll Project over the past two years have been an integral part of the project’s success. Her dedication has helped the project reach more people and expand internationally. She is an artist whose depth, passion, and expansive spirit is evident in all of her work, which she shares so generously. I’m grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with her and have learned so much from her art and her personally! – Joanna Fulginiti

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