Not “A Little Black Dress” Artist Statement The garments, dresses and aprons, are reflections of my interest in anonymous (or even non existent) women of the past. The sewn articles, mostly aprons, are manipulated and stitched papers embedded with found materials and finished in an encaustic form. The sewn pieces have connections with the tradition of hand and home made articles by unknown or undocumented women of the past, my grandmother, Mabel, included. Mabel was an alterations seamstress in a large, upscale department store for a number of years. While her job was to make clothing fit others impeccably and make them look fashionable, her hand in the process was anonymous to those who bought the clothing. The ceramic dresses have a similar meaning or inspiration. These works acknowledge unmentioned or under mentioned literary women, primarily those in the Bible. I have taught art history for a number of years and the references in art work to material from the Bible is abundant. While Mary is the topic of many art works, most of the others reference men. I started thinking about these stories and the sometimes absence of women. If these men had wives, what would they be like, what could they wear? These ceramic dresses are the dresses of imaginary Biblical women... wives, sisters, or daughters of saints or other men in the Bible. There is no intentional irreverence, but rather a joyous look at what they might wear and how they might move, many times in contemporary situation. When paper is used, I treat it with wax in an encaustic method in order to make it more translucent as well as stiff enough to hold a shape. Typically, the work is made in a different size than is normal, putting it further into a realm between function and non- function. I am very interested in the repetitive quality of the processes involved in making these pieces including ironing the paper, waxing it, stitching individual parts of the work and then stitching the entire piece. The ceramic works are of both low and high fire clays. Pieces with hardware are low fire and generally of a cold finish. The higher fire clay pieces are generally finished with a combination of engobes, underglazes, overglazes and/or cold finishes. The works are handbuilt using slabs and coils. The ceramic pieces that are of animals were inspired by a conversation with my granddaughter. As we were on a hike and encountered several people along the way, she asked what kinds of animals the hikers reminded me of. She believed that one, in particular, looked like a turtle. I started thinking about how the animals that I have known could do the opposite and take on human characteristics. For example, we talked about her dog, a doxie. What would Coco look like and it was decided that he would definitely be a boy scout. These animals are designed to be humorous and to generate a conversation. They are also experimentations with a variety of low fire finishes including layered glazes, mishima, and image transfers as well as a series of firings and some with cold finishes. I am most interested in the conversations that are generated by the works. I often hear people discuss what they know about the particular story of the women in the garments or the garmented animals. I also hear people interpret the work differently than I had anticipated and I am pleased to hear of the dialogue generated by the work.
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