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After much fermenting, the dress sculpture comes together

This is a week of finishing things. Physically handling some of my unfinished pieces seems to have triggered inspiration. A vintage dress I bought last year in a very faded yellow informed me it could easily be dyed with turmeric. It was right and I was able to match the underglaze flowers on my ceramic bodice perfectly.

I had attached wire loops to the base of the bodice and sewed it on by hand. It pleaded to have some embellishment. Continuing with what I had started with a smaller piece, Blöde Kuh, I found a chicken pattern. I was contemplating adding a sexist German proverb but decided less is more. The inside label of the bodice reads Dumme Huhn, dumb hen, a common German insult for a woman.

Why? The idea of something "beautiful" with a uncomfortable message continues to be a theme in my work. This delicate sculpture with an insult on it, how awful. Yet, isn't that the same as in life? A lovely girl being degraded. Women are often demeaned to put them "in their place."

I'm currently reading Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud: The Rise and Reign of the Unruly Woman by Anne Helen Petersen.

She delves into this concept so well. It felt like a handbook for my work. So much of what I have been thinking I'd almost rather refer people to read it than have me go on about it.

The skirt of this piece is delicate but the color rich. It's ripped in places, even has a small stain or two, imperfect but still pretty. The bodice is ceramic, strong and fragile at the same time. Decorated ceramics are a domestic item, functional or decorative, to be saved and admired. Dressing a girl up in a pretty dress keeps her objectified. It's not practical. It keeps her from getting dirty or being too active. It restricts her in thought and movement, whether consciously or not. A young girl is scolded if she rips or stains her dress. Layers and layers of meaning, stories, when that happens in a piece, I'm satisfied.


Davidson, North Carolina, USA

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