Friday, March 22, 2013

an obsession progression


transfer on CARD#8 onto BFK cream paper and then worked on, with pen and whiteout pen

use gesso on transfer

work over gesso with pens, gold pen,...

reworking more . . . . (yuck)

added collage elements, then worked in with pen, gesso . . .

Not sure if it is completely done BUT I am happy with where it is - I am feeling just a bit more emphasis of some of the lines but NOT much!!! 

any thoughts?!?!?!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The dresstag story, installment #2

the dresstag story continues . . .

the first official dresstag, made at Me & Ollie's cafe, Portsmouth, NH

from my daily dress journal
click here to see more
first dresstag placed
4. when did you start dresstagging?

it was Labor Day of 2011. I was in Portsmouth, NJ with my daughter, Maya when we had stumbled upon a package of charming origami paper. In the past months I had mastered the act of making an origami dress, using the folded dresses in collages.   I was also had been intensely working with different size origami dresses with my daily dress journals.  It seemed a natural step to start leaving them in different places!!
as i folded a dress Maya made this lovely cicada

some i hide in books . . .
When I started ‘the dress project’ back in 2006, I saw the dress as the mark of Virginia, like the mark of Zorro.  I built dresses to celebrate something beauty or protest an injustice. Years later the origami dress was a smaller, more manageable dress to leave behind.  But as i played with the origami paper in Portsmouth I liked the idea of using the dresstag as a vehicle of good fortune.
i made this dress in protest
for  the crazy amount of fencing
and 'stay down' signs

while visiting my hometown I came across an old path thru a ravine that I took many times as a kid, to get to the beach.
the idea that they needed to put up this many fences, creating such an eye sore, really irked me. 
5. why are they called ‘dresstag’s??

From the first dress that I left behind I was hooked. I felt that this new endeavor needed a name.   
may this dress bring u a smile
hope this dress keeps you warm ~ put on a car with the bumper sticker saying, "hate is not a family value"
may this dress bring u ur dreams come true ~ placed in an ice cream shop in the bershires
There was a street art/ graffiti aspect to this act of dropping dresses, even though they were small and carried good fortune.  Looking to the jargon from the graffiti world I considered dressbombs/ dressbombing. However I didn’t like a violent, destructive word attached to these dresses.  There is much literature about how using violent language adds to the negativity and violence in our lives.  My aim was to add positive energy, so with the aid of many friends I decided on dresstag.  This name alluded to street art as well as to the dresses that are made, sold and worn. 

dresstagging makes it to the MOMA!!!!
 6. how do you come up with the ‘fortune’??
I usually don’t have any preconceived idea about what I am going to write.  By the time I finish folding the dress I have an idea of what fortunes I will write.  I have noticed that many times I make a dress with the intention that I myself might need at that moment., like courage, clarity, strength.  Interestingly those dresstags usually get the most responses on FB?!?!?  maybe on those day there is a more universal need for a certain intention?!?!?

may this dress bring u satisfaction 
Next installment will be about the places that the dresstags have gone and the directions that these treasures have lead me.  Also if you have any questions about this practice , or any questions about my art either leave them below in the comment area, or on facebook or email me . . .
thanks for reading!! 

Sunday, March 17, 2013

The dresstag story, first installment

The dresstag story 
(a blog post that has been a long time coming)  
a dresstag recently given to a friend on her way to NJ.
She put on the intention and left it somewhere in NJ :)
Many people have asked me about the whys and hows behind my dresstags, so I felt the best approach to the dresstag's story would be in an answer and question format.

There is a lot to the story of the dresstag, so I have broken it down into a few installments – with LOTS of visuals!!!!
let's begin . . .

 1. what is a dresstag???
A dresstag is a small origami dress, onto which I write a fortune, sentiment, intention or wish.  I then place them in random public places ~ such as on  a bus seat, in a payphone or at a Starbucks.  
Then I walk away.

My hope is that someone will see this little dress and pick it up, read it and either replace it for someone else to find or take it home.  Dresstagging is a way for me to spread some good vibes and positive energy in this sometimes cynical world.

the back of one of the first dresstags
2. do you know what happens to your dresstags??
No, I don’t know what happens to the dresstag after I leave it.  Every so often I see that the dress is gone from the place I put it, but I have never seen a dresstag picked up.  In fact there is a bit of a sociological study in this dresstag practice – what causes people to pick something up or to just leave it???
may this dress bring u on a magical, mysterious journey
(the dresstag from the book reading)
Example: I was at a book reading at a  local library and I left a dresstag on the chairs of two girls who had gone up to get their book signed.  I did a quick pass by their chairs once the girls returned to their get their coats and then left and the dress was still there?!?!?  

There is a lot of fear around unknown objects, ‘you don’t know where that has been’?!?!? 'Report any thing suspicious to the police' There is the fear of germs or of getting involved, even though my dresstags are small, colorful and basically benign.
encouraging people to take the dresstag
dresstag at the Fort Point Arts Community Gallery
3. would you like to know where the dresstags go??
YES!! but I don’t know how ~  I experimented with putting on my name or my website/email on the dresstags, but adding my information never fit the spirit of the project.  I would LOVE to know if someone finds the dress, however adding my email seemed to add a commercial element to my dresstags, which belied my original intention.
experimenting with tagging the dresstag . . .
i love instragram!
However, thanks to cell phones with cameras, many times I am able to photograph the dresstag in its public locale and post it on FB, Twitter and especially Instragram, along with the dress’s fortune.  These postings have surprisingly become a significant element to my dresstag practice.  

Although I have no idea the fate of the physical dress, via these social media sites I learn that many of my dresstags have reached people.  I get ‘likes’ and even comments on different dress, some people saying that the photo brightened their day, which is my intent – be it in person or online.

I have dropped MANY dresstags in the past year and a half, and some of the photos of these dresstags I have collected in an album on FB.  Here is a link to this album that can be used by anyone!! no need to belong to Facebook and I quote'
"You can use this link to share this photo album with anyone, even if they don't have a Facebook account. Anyone with the link will be able to see your photo album." Facebook
(if you are not on FB and try this  link ,  please let me know if it works - I am so hot-wired into FB I am not sure I can really test the link:)

In this album you can see the many versions of my dresstags as well as the variety of places that they end up.

may this dress bring you peace . . 
So this was a beginning of the story, more to come . . .

Friday, March 15, 2013

metamorphosis, phase ll

This project is flying along and i am thrilled with the progress so far.  My last update was after I had cut the 400+ butterflies and sent them off in big yellow envelopes. They went to each advisory group so that each Dana Hall student could write on their butterfly and be part of the piece.  Below is a copy of the email instructions that each advisor received.
the big yellow envelopes holding the butterflies

I must confess I was very anxious Monday night.  I love collaborative projects but there are some pluses and minuses to leading such a project.  A down side is that you have no idea how the participants will respond or contribute.  The up side of a collaborative project is that you have NO idea how the participants are going to respond or contribute!!! :)
the butterflies from the envelopes

Monday night I wondered how the students would react to my instructions and how would my butterflies return to me?!?!? But when i arrived on Tuesday morning I was greeted with pile of inspiring and beautiful butterflies!!! A wonderful snapshot of middle-school and high-school ~ many with inspirational quotes; some with dreams for the future; some with basic everyday desires ~ to pass a test, a good lunch; references to pop culture and the fears and sadnesses ~ spiders, squirrels and missing home.
With such a quantity, I was constantly seeing new and interesting contributions ~ some students expressed themselves with words, some in their native language and some with pictures.  All my anxieties vanished and as the middle school art classes came to help me, the vision of the dress became clearer and clearer. Now how to get there is still a challenge.
one of the desires/dreams that went into a cocoon

some finished cocoons
I have worked with many art classes over the week telling them about my thought behind the dress and sharing the process.  I had the students using india ink to outline each butterfly.  I also asked them to write more thoughts or/and intentions on the dress as a method to create a pattern.  And I also had each student create their own cocoon.  Here they could write a secret or true desire that would be wrapped up and dipped in wax, so that dream or intention could ferment in its safe and sealed cocoon. All of these treasure will be incorporated into and on the dress?!?!?

still needed to personalize the dress - this time I used paint & dye.  I believe my current subscription card obsession might have had something to do with my choice of pattren

dress detail
butterflies after being outlined
cocoons of desires/dreams written on thin pattern paper, rolled and wrapped with different materials then sealed with hot wax
the dress after more writing and painting
these butterflies are soooooo inspiring 
my set-up in the Dana Gallery
Yesterday I decided to painted the veins of a butterfly wing on to the top of the dress with india ink
Here is the instructions that were sent out the morning that the students got their butterflies:

As part of a collaborative project for the Dana Art Gallery, Artist-in-Residence Virginia Fitzgerald has been working with students and invites you to contribute this morning to the creation of a sculptural dress which will be worn in the Spring Fashion Show and exhibited afterwards in the Library. Each advisor group has a packet containing cut paper butterflies and Sharpie markers.  Each student is asked to simply write a word, phrase or short sentence, or simple image reflecting a wish, a dream, an inspiration, a memory, or fear on one of the pieces of paper. This can be written in any language, in any style, on any subject (personal, family, school related, etc.); these should be anonymous and there is no wrong way to express yourself. When finished please return the pieces of paper and markers to the envelope and have a member or the advisory drop them off to the gallery. Thanks so much for you participation. Stop by the gallery throughout the week and after the Break to see how your words and images will be incorporated into the sculpture, or stop by and work with Ms. Fitzgerald directly. All are invited. Thank you for supporting the arts.

and stay tune, much more to come on the project . . .

Monday, March 11, 2013

metamorphosis, phase l

In conjunction with my participation in DanaHall's exhibition, Fashion and Fiberarts, I have been invited to be an artist in residence for the last week of the show.  During this time I will create a collaborative dress' with the Dana Hall students which will be worn in their Spring Fashion Show. Quite an honor and a challenge that I whole heartedly accepted.

Working with teacher/curator Michael Frassinelli, I proposed a project for which each student would contribute. And factoring in the students' schedules and demands, we decided to start with an already made dress ~ a first for me!!!

Today was my first official day in residency and here is where we/I am so far, and the journey to get here ~

This is the dress that 'spoke' to me  at the second hand store

wanted to soften the white so I tea-stained it
I have found it difficult working with an already made dress.  I feel the need to make the dress my own, to get connected to it somehow.  I have dyed it, ripped it and asked some brave students write on it!! 

One student marveled about how I could just 'mess-up' or 'ruin' the dress, an act that would intimidated her.  I however felt liberated, a constant part of my process is messing up and then rescuing the piece :) adding that extra challenge?!?!? 

round 1
When presented with the chance to work with the Dana students in a creative sense, I wanted to propose a project that would allow/help each student think about an aspect of herself that makes her special.  

This is a school of amazing students, many with incredible intelligence and drive. When pondering the high school experience and seeing all the trials and tribulations that any and all high school girls go thru, I wanted to give the students a platform in which they could celebrate a unique part of themselves.

I found it quite difficult to put this thought/concept into words, creating a 'prompt' from which the student would work.  I also struggled with the shape/material on which the students would express their dream, gift or talent.  Working collaboratively has its challenges for an artist like myself, one who solves many issues on the fly and while deep in the process.
the beginning of the day
I came upon the answer when I stumbled upon the book, Chrysalis, Maria Sibylla Merian and the Secrets of Metamorphosis at our local library last weekend.  Maria Sibylla Merian is a woman whose work and life I have admired for many years.  Her exquisite paintings of insects have influenced my work, especially the wall paintings for 'this comes from within'.  So now I had a book about this amazing woman from the 1600's who sailed to Surinam to study insects and metamorphosis ~ I took it as a sign.
I always like to have a yin/yang aspect in my dresses so I have asked students to share fears, obstacles and difficulties because it is both our strengths and weaknesses that make us uniquely who we are.
I decided that each girl would be given a butterfly on which to express herself.  So today I set up camp in the Dana gallery and cut out 400-500 paper butterflies.  Tomorrow morning their advisors will pass them out with the beloved black Sharpie and by tomorrow I will know what I have to work with.  

a faction of the butterflies that I cut out today . . .
Tune in later this week to see/ hear what I get!! 
peace & good night!!!