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!!!


  1. Hey Virginia- I love the work of Maria Sybilla Merian, so glad you discovered her, can't wait to see what evolves!

  2. What a wonderful project! The students are so fortunate to have you there. I can't wait to read more!

  3. Deborah and Amy - thanks so much for your comments and encouragement!! This project is going along splendidly!! Plan to post more either tonight or this weekend!!! xxx & peace


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