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Noland may be her own client, but she's not her own advertising agency. Her friends say she is compulsively humble.
"She's a humble person. She doesn't think she is doing more than she actually is," Honig says. "I'm sure, in some ways, she has exploded more than she will ever reveal."
When Noland is cajoled into speaking about her participation in a July artists panel at the Textile Museum in Washington, D.C., she blushes and sits up straight. "[It was] a surreal moment," she says. "It's hard work paying off." But her face loses its glow when she thinks longer on her career.
"There are people doing more interesting work than me," she says. "There are people who are doing better work than me, more well-constructed work than me, more appealing work than me." Finally, she reconciles her modesty with the recognition she's earned so far. "I could very easily be replaced [on the panel]. But because of who I am, what I've done, I'm here right now. And I felt like I deserved it."
In the harried days before her New York trip, Noland chooses to work rather than promoting herself online or in the press. Stormberg helps her move a 4-foot-tall hand sculpture, which will double as a clothing rack, into her store. Noland realizes that the installation won't be finished before she leaves, so she decides to keep the store closed while she's away. She has run out of yellow hair anyway.
Freed from working on the store, Noland focuses on deciding between doing a show that might get her remembered and one that will trigger immediate press. A few years ago, she would have sewn some commercially viable items and waited for praise. But Noland's career shifted in June when she tripped gag reflexes here during the 18th Street Fashion Show.
"I put really cute clothes down [the runway] the first couple of years, and people really loved it," she says. "And I got bored with being average and being cute and being normal." She didn't apply for the show this year. But at the behest of the show's organizers, she said she would participate — with certain conditions.
"If you want me to be part of the show, I'm going to make it disgusting," she says she told them. "I want people to be repulsed and shocked and grossed out."
"They were like, 'No, no, we can't have that,'" she recalls. "And I was like, well, this is why I didn't apply. And I think that made them kind of salivate." The organizers compromised by buying tarps for audience members in the first row.
The tarps were a good investment. Noland's contribution to the event required Home Depot buckets, in which she mixed corn syrup, creamed corn, Froot Loops, ketchup, mustard and mayonnaise. She slathered the goop on friends (including Critcheloe) dressed in haphazard layers, then sent them down the runway trailing globules of food and sauce. On the runway, the puddles heated under the lights and began reeking. Models from Birdies Panties followed, dodging the mess.
"I wanted to be the one people left talking about," she says. "I'm very honest about that."
But the New York show promised professional models, a runway, stage lighting. The show organizers even asked what sort of media outlets Noland wanted to have at the show.
"I absolutely have it in me to go there and do something that could be termed gross," she says, her voice rising as thought she's accepting a dare.