When a little girl plays dress up, she imagines what it’s like to be a grown woman. When she plays with her dolls, she envisions scenarios of what her life will one day be like. As a grown woman who “plays” with dolls and dresses as sculptural forms, I do so with adult concerns and real life experiences. These works are companion pieces to the Martyr Dresses, much like the American Girl catalog that sells the matching clothes so little girls can dress like their dolls.
Martyr Dresses have a relationship to hair shirts worn by religious ascetics as a form of offering or penance. The one made of eggshells is meant to suggest a wedding dress, with the eggshells referring to fertility. From trying to avoid pregnancy, to unwanted pregnancies, to the ticking of the biological clock, to fertility treatments, to motherhood, and menopause, this is the dress to be worn in deference to the role fertility plays in a woman’s life. The dress made of lump charcoal is both a strapless, black gown and a funeral pyre. It refers to both the transience of beauty and the sacrifices made for beauty. The dress made of glass represents material possessions or wealth. Although it may sparkle like jewels, it’s nothing but broken bottles and jars.
In a very real sense, I am playing with dolls---distorting their scale; altering their clothes; changing their context. These sculptures of Barbie refer to female experiences. Some originated as McDonald’s Happy Meal toys, which accounts for their smaller size. Cast in bronze, they are transformed from toys to trophies and from playthings to miniature classical sculptures. I call these female figures "godlesses" (a pun, not a typo) as they suggest Greek, Roman, and Hindu goddesses, while simultaneously contemporary in their "Barbie-ness."
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“Playing” with the ubiquitous Barbie as an adult offers possibilities for political commentary, personal expression, and imagined narratives.
The "Mother's Apron" series was inspired by the form of an apron—-a curved plane, which suggests both shields and shells. As shields, they are adorned with the markings of battle, of family, of place of origin, of codes of honor, etc. As shells, they suggest home and shelter. These "apron strings" are strong, as they are made of metal, and they may fetter both parent and child, but they are linked in form to fallopian tubes, umbilical cords, and roots.
Birdhousedress is the first of my dress pieces. A visual pun on "birdhouse" and "housedress," it was built with straw from nesting/roosting pockets that I bought at a hardware store. A Dress for Ana Mendieta is a newer work, made from a mold I took off of a tree trunk. It is a bark dress---strapless and short. It was inspired by a photograph from Ana Mendieta’s “Tree of Life” series in which she covered her own body with mud, grass and leaves, and stood against tree trunks, accentuating the connectedness between nature and women.
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