The Wedding Gown Project
Several years ago while walking through Experienced Goods, Brattleboro’s hospice charity shop, I saw a corner full of wedding gowns.
It was June. They caught my eye. Not being in need of a wedding gown, I left.
But by the time I got home, I felt really disturbed. I couldn’t stop thinking about these worn, used, and discarded dresses – and the stories that they told.
Being a caterer, I have seen hundreds of wedding gowns. I’d easily get caught up in the joy and promise of the “once-in-a-lifetime” day.
But these dresses were for sale in a hospice shop. They had been abandoned, instead of cleaned and stored in a closet to be cherished and saved for a future daughter’s wedding.
A few days later, I went back to Experienced Goods and bought them all.
I hung them in my studio and looked at them, and lived with them for a few months, trying to understand why I found them so unnerving.
Thus began my exploration of the meaning of the word “marriage” and the meaning of wedding dresses in today’s society.
I had many questions. What are the words related to marriage that we use today? Were these gowns from the first wedding, or the second, or maybe even the third? How long do marriages last now? What are the emotions surrounding divorce? What happened to “’til death do us part”? What is left after we are gone?
This installation is a reflection based on traditional women’s garments and my personal journey to answer those questions.
The Wedding Gown Project is composed of four parts intended to produce a very soft, light, and eerie quality: Procession, Fragments, Words, and Vows.
Procession floats through space and asks us to examine our place in its ever-changing arrangement. The Fragments, Vows, and Words sections offer a closer probing of the deeper layers of meaning in our society.
The installation is a guide in fabric, words, images, and other materials to contemplate the social issues, codes, and responsibilities such as truth, betrayal, separation, love and family, taboos, loneliness, and joy.
The Wedding Gown Project invites viewers to reflect on who we are, and our place in today’s culture.