Here is the article from the Hopkinton Crier about my talk to the Women's Cultural Art Forum, written by Helen Prunty Krispien. I must confess, it is always fun for me to read about how people interpret my work!!! thank you Helen!! peace
new york diner dress (2006)
Drowning ladybugs lead to fascinating art project
Helen Prunty Krispien; Crier Correspondent
Virginia Fitzgerald has an artist's soul. She finds creative expression and inspiration through everyday life experiences that can be seen in her current endeavor, "The Dress Project."
Fitzgerald, who lives in Natick, gave a lively, self-narrated slide presentation with over 300 of her dresses at the Women's Cultural Art Forum at the Cultural Arts Alliance on May 6. With such a dynamic embrace for creativity, Fitzgerald's quaint stories that accompanied each colorful slide made the two hour presentation fly by.
The simple, sleeveless dress form that is a signature of all her dress creations had its initial inspiration, although she was not quite aware of its implication, on an outing with her then 4-year-old daughter who wanted to learn how to blow bubbles with chewing gum. Fitzgerald was taken aback at her daughter's disgust at her mother putting gum on a stick and just playing around with it.
The "Dress Project" challenges a lot of preconceived rules, says Fitzgerald, as she passed around a 2 by 3 inch white tile that had a hardened, chewed stick of gum with a tiny dress form on it.
Another design, "Dress of Etiquette" is created from pages torn from the book "Emily Post's Etiquette" and pasted on a mannequin. This dress will be part of the Cambridge Art Association's Northeast Prize Show juried by Cheryl Brutvan, curator of Contemporary Art at the Norton Museum of Art. The show runs from May 14-June 23.
But the actual "dress project" began on a family summer vacation in Wells, Maine. "We had rented a little house on the beach. On the first day, my girls and I were beach combing and came upon wave upon wave of drowning ladybugs. Of course, we had to save the ladybugs," she said.
"In the process of taking the ladybugs out of the ocean and up to the warm sand, we noticed that some were dead and my girls asked what would we do with the dead ladybugs? My immediate response was to make art out of them. The idea blasted open my brain. That night I sat up filling my sketch book with the different materials I could make a dress out of.
"The next morning, after a night of sleepless inspiration, I headed out to the beach. While walking, I wondered what would this dress look like? So, I grabbed a stick and drew this life sized outline of a simple, sleeveless dress. Once, I saw the outline, I knew I would fill it with the beautiful beach rocks that surrounded me and voila. the dress project began."
A self-proclaimed peacenik, one of Fitzgerald's dresses currently on display at the CAA, entitled "In Memory Of" serves as a protest against the U. S. involvement in Iraq. The top of the child's dress is made of a plaster cast that is abstractly painted with a map of the Middle East. The bottom consists of strands of dog tags from fallen soldiers that were reprinted from the New York Times which publishes the names and photos of deceased soldiers every time the death toll hits 1,000. "It was at 4,000, and that was like 3 1/2 ago," she said.
"The bottom is a mess; such a quagmire," she said.
"I bought miniature dog tags, cut and attached the picture and put polyurethane on which gave it gave an antique look. And that's part of the dress project - the learning process. I start with one idea, and one direction, and it unfolds."
Another dress on display is the "Flower Power Dress" that has the 60s flower motif printed on the top and strands of colorful beads as the skirt. This is an interactive display in that it encourages people to make a string of beads for the skirt.
For Fitzgerald, who admits she loves being an artist, the best part about it is being in the moment of creating. "It is like a drug," she says. "To get an idea or see an inspirational sight, figure out how I can recreate that idea or emotion or vision, then dive into the materials and process and just being there," she said. "It is meditative and exhilarating. It is a creative problem, and I love a puzzle. And this carries over to sharing the piece with others - seeing how my recreation is interpreted by those who witness it. And I especially enjoy inspiring others."