Monday, May 10, 2010

over 300 slides....

Last week the Women's Art Forum of Hopkinton invited me to speak to their group about the Dress Project, and it was a terrific experience! ~ the group was so generous and appreciative. Of course, getting prepped for the talk was a bit challenging ~ I found myself an LCD projector (thanks Tom) and put together a slide show of the Dress Project. After a few hours of combing thru files of photos I realized that I had over 300 slides and I had not even included all of the dresses that i have made. I was a bit awe~struck!! A few friends baulked at the quantity thinking there was no way for me to cover that much work in 2 hours ...well I got thru all of the slides in an hour and a half :). I was amazed how easy it was to speak about the Dress Project with the slides ~ I had my girls with me!!! As the dresses appeared across the screen the stories and inspirations just poured out of me.

At the talk there was a reporter from the local paper ~ the Hopkinton Crier, who sent me some follow questions. As I was answering them for her I thought the answers maybe interesting for my blog in their rough form, here are my answers, a little background of the Dress Project.

1. I understand, you started out as a sculptor. How did you segue into this contemporary art form?

'Started out' is a hard to answer since i have been doing something creative since i can remember. At Kenyon College I studied Studio Art with a concentration in Printmaking. I don't know if you were there when Cheryl and I were talking about my beginnings.... I was saying how I was intimidated by sculpture in college but if you step back and look at my work before the Dress Project there are many sculptural aspects to it. In Printmaking I was drawn to relief printmaking - woodcuts, where i was carving the wood plates. After college I supported myself with different creative business ~ i sold my hand painted furniture and for 7 years I ran a business based on bottle cap jewelry that i made. All these buz. had sculptural elements. But, do i think i started out as a sculptor - not exactly.... I thought of myself as a painter and when the Dress Project started I was just coming off a successful painting gallery show. But I was craving something more in my work. I am drawn to much contemporary art ~ i study it and go see it, I try to get to NY as much as possible. So I feel that I 'segued' into this contemporary art form because I had the exposure of current contemporary work, the openness to receive it and the hunger to keep pushing myself.

2. What's the best part about being an artist for you?

Another toughie ~ because I love so much of being an artist!!! But if I had to narrow it down, I believe the best part is being in the moment of creating!! it is like a drug. To get an idea or see an inspirational sight, figure out how i could recreate that idea or emotion or vision, then dive into the materials and process and just being there. It is meditative and exhilarating!!! It is creative problem solving and I love a puzzle!! And this carries over to sharing the piece with others ~ seeing how my recreation is interrupted by those who witness it. And I especially enjoy inspiring others.

3. How many dresses are in the Dress Project?

I wish I had an exact number!!! The slide show had over 300 slides ~ and even though many of the slides were different views of the same dress I realize that there were many dresses that didn't make the slide show!!! Also there are the ephemeral dresses, the mini dresses, the dresses that were supposedly finished then I cut them, or started to rework them and they're not finished ( like my large dog tag dress). I counted up the large, still intact sculptures and came up with 20 over the part 3 1/2 yrs. I can't even guess on how many ephemeral dresses there have been - sometimes they are not even documented, i just needed to make a dress then and there. There are about 10 or more mini 3d dress sculpture then a good number of high relief dresses on canvas or board (like the strata series). Sorry i can't be more exact at this point.

4. How was the Dress Project idea started?

It started on a family vacation in Wells Beach, ME. 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. In the process of taking the ladybugs out of the ocean and up to the warm sand we noticed that some were dead & my girls ask me what would we do with the dead ladybugs - my immediate answer was to make art out of them. As I said this i thought wouldn't it be interesting to make a dress out of dead ladybugs - the symbolism alone was intriguing. Well, I do have the ladybugs, but I never made that dress, however 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 would 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. This was right after having a successful painting show of still life's and I had been wanted to get more personal in my work. The dress form spoke to that need - I was dealing with the female body, the idea of appearance & dress, the feminine psyche. The first day when i was collecting beach rocks i had an innate knowledge of what rock would go where and why. It was liberating and addicting. For the rest of the vacation I went to the beach to make a dress with whatever materials were offered to me that day.

5. Where can people catch a glimpse of your work?

At the present I have three dress on exhibit at Bead & Fiber ~ 460 Harrison Avenue Boston MA (617) 426-2323 ~ in their The Practical, Impractical & Artrageous: 2nd annual wearable art show. running April 30th 2010 thru June 26th - with a charity fashion show on May 15th & 16th 2010 in aid of Artists for Humanity in Thayer Street, Boston 02118. The pedestrianised street will be our runway. Inclement weather will result in cancellation of the show. The start time each day will be 2pm and the show will end each day around 4pm. Come and see some amazing art in motion from some truly amazing designers!

Also my Dress of Etiquette will be part of the Cambridge Art Assoc.'s Northeast Prize Show juried by Cheryl Brutvan, Curator of Contemporary Art,
Norton Museum of Art . The show runs from May 14 - June 23, 2010. Reception: Thursday, May 20, 6-8pm in both galleries.

Also the two dresses that I brought for my talk are still at the CAA for viewing. Cheryl and the women there felt it would be nice to have them for awhile, and with the Flower Power dress, everyone and anyone can make a bead strand to add to the skirt.

I am working on redesigning my website ~, but there are many dresses shown there. Also I post up coming news and events on my blog ~ & facebook fan page.!/pages/Virginia-Fitzgerald/127363913633?ref=ts


  1. Your artwork is Fabulous!!
    So, glad I happened on your blog.
    All the best with your art.

    1. Thanks Debra!! I just saw this as I am prepping for another lecture!! it is always nice to reads such supportive comments! peace, va


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