Sunday, May 22, 2016

#tbt: the story of 'black widow ...'

'black widow ...' (vcr tape dress) 
Sculpture: vcr tape, chicken wire, Size: 55 x 64 x 50" (2008)
Lucy Lippard juried this piece into the Women's Caucus for Art: "from the center” 
exhibit at the Woman Made Gallery, Chicago, IL Jan, 2010. 
In honor of 'black widow' being part of David Lee Black's Create your vision photography workshop this Sunday, I wish to share the story of 'black widow ...'
I made 'black widow ...' in 2008 when people were still using VCR tapes. Now when people see 'black widow ...' they ooo and ahhh as if VCR tapes are as old as the rotary phones.

I got the idea when I got a glimpse at the insides of one of those VCR cassette. I saw this shiny, ribbon like material and immediately thought it would make a great dress.  I noted that the VCR tape not only had this shiny black quality but it also moved with any kind of breeze and it was reflective and it also made a beautiful sound when it moved!!! All wonderful qualities to have in a material!!! And to highlight all these I decided to use a chicken wire armature for the bodice and weave the VCR tape into the chicken wire and then create the skirt by hanging endless ribbons of VCR tape.  

Now an interesting happened when I was creating the armature ...first let me share with you that whenever I start any dress I do not have a preconceived idea of the shape of the form but just 'follow' the material and the dress.  As I was working with the chickenwire, molding and twisting it into the bodice, the waist was becoming very small and the breasts were growing?!?! As I continued I realized that this dress was going to speak to the inane expectations that the media, TV, magazines, Hollywood  creates for women!!! That from the youngest age girls/women are told how to look and how to act and a majority of those messages are not healthy (although there has been a movement for more healthy images in the media for girls/women, but honestly it is still pretty nasty out there) 

So as this thought was percolating I felt the need to close off the arm holes of the bodice, as a way of symbolizing how these messages and expectations presented by the media trap and stifle women. 

Once the bodice was finished I covered it with VCR tape in one of my favorite methods, weaving and then created the skirt.  I do not know how many VCR tapes I used (wish I had kept track) and 'no' I didn't use particular movies (another question I am asked).  After creating and showing the dress I did have MANY!! people asking if I wanted there old VCR tapes. It was interesting as I believe I witnessed the ending of the VCR tape era, as the amount of tapes that I was offered was mind-blowing.  I did take many boxes because I do think that this is an awesome material.  

It seems to be weather-proof as well.  In 2012 I did a workshop with the Happy Hollow Elementary School in Wayland, MA where the Students and I created a jellyfish out of VCR tape.  Click here to see a blog post about my visit to the school!! 

A last note about 'black widow ...' is that I feel it also reflects my personal feeling about watching TV can be the death to creativity, imagination and so much more. 

Below is a bit of a blogpost from 2009, when the Starbuck's coffee cups had different quotes on them ...

13 uninterrupted years!!!! lost

This is a quote that came on my Starbuck's cup and I HAD to share.....
The Way I see It #51 ~
"Americans spend an average of 29 hours a week watching television- which means in a typical life span we devote 13 uninterrupted years to our TV sets! the biggest problem with mass media isn't low quality- it's high quantity. Cutting down to just an hour a day would provide extra years of life- for music and family, exercise and reading, conversation and coffee."
--Michael Medved, author of Right Turns & radio talk show host

That is a little over 4 hours a day which equals 13 YEARS!!!!!I am the person who, in college, learned that you spend about a quarter of your life asleep and I tried to stop sleeping - that didn't need sleep, but TV?!?

So that is a bit of the backstory of 'black widow ...' and if you can come to Plymouth today and join a wonderful group of creatives taking pictures in a inspiring space with modeling and musicians!! it is an event NOT TO BE MISSED!!! XXX


Eleventh in a series of a wonderful growing community of supportive and talented photographers of all skill levels.

We will be photographing at the amazing TreeHouse Studios of Kristin Hughes-Craig located at 84 Court Street,Plymouth, Massachusett with professional lighting, backdrops and a projection screen! 

We will be photographing the lovely model Capri Lanning-Cafaro. Capri will be interacting with artist Virginia Fitzgerald's hauntingly beautiful dress sculpture, "black widow . . ."

There will also be plenty of helpful guidance and suggestions to enhance your passion for artful photography.

Feel free to invite your friends or share this invite!

What to bring: 
Camera (All kinds of cameras are welcome)
Your creativity
Optional: Examples of work for peer review

Cost: $50

Parking is street and parking lot on side of building. Also there is a public parking lot behind Plymouth Memorial Hall across the street.

We will meet at 10:30 am for meet and greet (refreshments provided).

This just in . . .
The wildly talented @Steven Lanning-Cafaro will be playing classical and flamingo acoustic guitar for this special event!

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