Tuesday, May 14, 2013

metamorphosis, the whole story, in pictures

'metamorphosis' modeled at Dana Hall Fashion Show
In conjunction to that show I was invited to create a collaborative project/dress 
with the student body that would be presented at the Dana Hall Fashion Show.  
The end product: 'metamorphosis'
it all started with a white dress

found at the thrift shop
objective: to create a dress/project that involved the entire student body of  Dana Hall
I wanted to create an opportunity for the students to reflect on their place in the world, as students of a very challenging and scholarly girl's school.  As I pondered the concept behind the dress, I came across 'Chrysalis', the story of Maria Sibylla Merian and the project fell in place.  
The idea of metamorphosis felt akin to my desires for the project; during middle school and high school there is a metamorphosis, students discovering their desires, strengths and passions while facing fears, and then 'emerging' as adults.  I wanted to offer the students a platform in which they could pause and reflect on their personal journey.

so I tea dyed it
first, i realized the dress was too white

and I painted, dyed and cut the original dress.

I set-up in the gallery.
the first day I cut out 500+ butterflies
then Michael Frassinelli and I divided the butterflies into to envelopes for each advisory group.
 with this prompt:
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 andthere 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.

the next day I had 500+  emotionally charged butterflies
then the fun began . . .

the middle school student came and helped me  . . .

they made cocoons, with wax, glitter and more intentions rolled up inside

and they helped me outline each butterfly with black ink

and then they painted each butterfly with glitter medium to reenforce the paper

I continued to 'personalize' the dress. here I soaked the bottom in ink
the students also wrote on the dress, adding to the pattern/design
I used the india ink to create a vein like pattern on the top of the dress
there were many heart felt messages on the butterflies
during the week I was working at the school Mr. Fraz found this butterfly on the ground :)
It was very interesting to see all the different ideas, thoughts, 
dreams, fears and desires that were written on the butterflies. 

As I attached each one to the dress 
I wondered what kind of response I would have received 
if I did a similiar project with a boys school?!?!? 
then it was time for me to pack up ~
back to my studio (well, really my home, sorry girls).
 Here I attached everything to the dress ~ 
butterflies and cocoons.  
I sewed many layers of strips of tulle and netting, 
then attached all the butterflies.
I added grommets on each side so it could fit whatever student that would be wearing it in the Fashion Show
This is the first dress that I made that someone else 
was going to wear.  During the Fashion Show I felt like 
I might have been on Project Runway ~ 
nervous if the dress would fit and present well 
and I found myself saying that my model was at 'hair and make-up' :)
any thoughts Tim Gunn??
As I was adding the layers and butterflies my own forest nymph modeled the dress for me,
this way I could see how the dress hung ~
and how it moved.
Monday morning was the Fashion Show and my model rocked the dress! 
spinning and letting all the Dana Hall student's dreams and desires take flight 
and their fears just fly away.  

Thank you Dana Hall for supporting and participating so fully in this dress/project.  
As always it was a wonderful and enriching experience for me 
and I hope it was for you too!!
'metamorphosis' modeled at Dana Hall Fashion Show


  1. Beautiful, Virginia! Thanks for sharing the journey.... XOXO


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