Tuesday, November 30, 2010
So I have a week left. I am kind of fretting with how to resolve Miss November visually. Right now she has these fabric islands kind of floating on her back side and I would love to see them get tied together better. I have to be honest, I have not sewn on her for the last three days. I have been busy with life, motherhood, and the preparation for a big family trip down south. Miss november has shared in my recent panics, anxieties and bouts of over planning and she has been great, but also kind of annoying. There have been moments when I am trying to clean house or get stuffed packed and she has been too much girl for the practicality of simple household chores. I am referring to the fact that she has gotten rather full with the addition of an under layer and although she makes me feel beautiful, full and voluptuous, there are times when I just want to wear black yoga pants and a black t-shirt and get down to the nitty gritty. Maybe I am still to careful with Miss
November? Am I making things harder for myself by not immersing her directly into the daily chores or am I changing the way I hold myself while in a dress?
It has been 24 days since I really last wore jeans. I have been wearing tights almost every day and wow, what an adjustment. I used to Hate tights, now they are tolerable. However, the tight situation is looking up. My great friend Chris, just donated a bonanza of tights, leggings and stockings. ( what are the differences between all of those?) I have some amazing new leg wear and I must say that she may have single handedly made this project way more interesting and exciting. Pictures of the loot are soon to follow.
So now as I have been packing I have of course chosen what dress 2 will start off as. I wish I had more time to write about this, but quite frankly I am exhausted. I will go into more detail about the december dress next post.
Saturday, November 27, 2010
Anyways, back to attention. I think I have had the view of myself as a very private person. My art says what I usually do not, which makes this specific project interesting. As more people take notice, I am being forced to own my identity. What I mean by this is that I find myself gaining a confidene that is usually stored in the reserves of my being. A kind of confidence reserved for art openings and public speaking, but now it is coming out every time some one says "what a nice dress you are wearing.". It is the kind of confidence that is making me introduce myself and jump into a spiel about The Dress That Makes The Woman. I even have a business card that directs people to this blog and my website. I find a simple kind of irony in the fact that I am making a person to person connection about something so tactile, ie. the dress, and then offering a very detached way to follow it's / my progress.
Up next : a list of concepts, ideas and philosophical perspectives that this project has started to develop.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
I got a new pair of glasses to compliment my chameleon-esque state; they are clear with silver horn rims from 1960s era. For just a moment let's talk glasses. Of all the different types of glasses why do I choose to wear 1960s horn rims? Well, my therapist thought that it had something to do with hiding my face, but I beg to differ. First, I hate contacts so they are not an option. Second, glasses are like the best kind of accessory. I feel like you have to choose a pair that is going to be defining. If people are going to see you day in and day out in the same pair of glasses, then they should say something about you and your personal style. I am thinking back to this fabulous photograph taken by Mark Selliger in the '90's of Kennedy, the Mtv VJay. (I know there of those of you out there who are getting all embarrassed by this reference, but you know who you are, Mtv generation folks) so the photograph doesn't show her face it only shows her glasses, because everyone knew how iconic her glasses made her. Another good example is Peggy Guggenheim and her fabulously quirky sunshades, google some images of her if you don't know what I am talking about.
Do I want to be known as the horn rim glasses girl, no not really, but they just happen to go really well with my "look.". When I use that term "look" what I really mean is when the image of the person who I think I look like matches up with the real Wylie. I think we all experience this kind of disconnect from time to time, otherwise we wouldn't strive for self improvement, right?
So back to the dress.
She has a lot more work on the back now and around the hips. I have added another layer of fabric for some top layer insulation as the weather gets colder. She is feeling flowy and full. I like where she is going because it feels more womanly less girly cute. I don't know if this could possibly translate in a photograph but I will try to capture what I mean.
Miss november is also getting harder to take off. No, I mean this literally. She is so full with so many layers that she is getting stuck around my armpits. Pretty soon, I may need an extra person to help lift her over my head.
I am also starting to play around with wool and the wash. I have added some wool bits to see if they will felt and shrink and distort in hot water. I like that my artist pallet mostly consists of string and thread and bits of old fabrics/ clothes, all things found at home or in the studio. I am starting to see the GREEN environmental possibilities with this whole project, only using what I have and what already exists in my wardrobe. It makes all the things that get added significant. I have little stories about a lot of pieces and garments. For example I just added the cut off part of a strap from a friends wedding gown. I altered it for her days before her wedding. I added this because with the alteration came a sweet thank you note that had little to do with the dress. The letter was about a phrase we were able to exchange. The phrase is "way to be." There is a long winded personal story about this phrase that I will save for another time, but it is significant. Finding that little scrap of fabric was a beautiful reminder of "way to be." Cheesy? Definitly, but the reminder came at a time when I was having some personal doubts about life, art, love etc. So I added it to the dress. I suppose I could have stitched the words on the dress, but now I have something way better- a little visual reminder that says exactly what It needs to say with out saying it.
Sunday, November 21, 2010
1. It takes a very open cheerful person to stand at a booth and sell your handmade art wares to people.
2. Crafters usually make things that are useful, aesthetically and technically beautiful or interesting.
3. Crafters don't have too much time to lollygag and look at one piece for hours wondering to themselves where do I go from here. No they produce and once successful in reproduction, they repeat again and again.
4. Crafters travel a lot from fair to fair to market to market...
5. Crafters if super successful are fantastic business people. Did I mention that they are also the face of their product? Whoa!
Ok so for me, sure I could be all of these things, but somehow I feel like what I do and have the patience for is so different. I totally admire my friends who are hand crafters. They are amazing and their products are amazing. I used to think I could do what they do, but After yesterday, I realize that I am not a crafter, not even an artist with a little bit of crafter in her.
I am an ARTIST.
I look at something get wrapped up in composition and juxtaposition and meaning. Super silly stuff to occupy ones self with regularly, but then I sit down and try to figure out how to make that inspirational moment tangible but also relevant to the experience. Artists are philosophers. They are not all business savvy, but the more successful ones usually are. I realize that I may be making some generalizations here and I must clarify that I am not intending to come off as saying artists are more superior to crafters. No I am just saying we are all fruit, but crafters are like apples and artists are like persimmons.
Going back to the craft show, I sold two pieces: a table cloth and a framed paper drawing. I made a whopping $35. Which meant I lost money when you factor in the cost for doing the show. Yet, I am not disappointed because ever person who passed by my booth stopped to talk with me about the dress I was wearing. In fact, I was able to do something way better than sell a hand crafted object, I verbally sold myself. I channeled my inner vaudeville maestro and told every Tom, Dick and Harriet about The Dress That Makes The Woman. I did what every artist does every time they exhibit, I put myself on display.
New thoughts about the dress- after washing tonight time for major work to be done, she deserves a little one on one attention. Photos soon to come.
Thursday, November 18, 2010
I could only tolerate wearing her till 3pm. Then I did some yoga in the studio and then promptly went home to put on pajamas. She was so heavy. I really feel like she has transformed from
this gauzy and light little black dress into this weighted... Hmm what is the right word to use here? Suit of armor? Shell? Uniform?
She is still a dress, but she is fortified. I am starting to get a little intimidated by her. Even when I am not inside her, she holds my form. I am beginning to see the value of having chosen to only wear each dress for a month. Although I am not yet at the point of counting down the days, I am beginning to wonder if it might be time to try some reductive alterations.. Yet this becomes harder to want to do as it gets seasonably colder outside.
A couple of things immediately come to mind. One, I started this project theorizing that these dresses would be made to customize a garment so as not to have to fit in with the "norm.". Secondly, as I am trying to reclaim my identity, I am clearly disguising it with the addition of more embellishments. It reminds me of one of the DUNE books written by Frank Herbert, if you have read the series then you get the metaphor. However, for you non sci-fi folks, then if feels something like a second skin, but fortified, like an armor of sorts.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Monday, November 15, 2010
Today I bought a new, well not so new but new to me, coat. This coat suits my dress very well; so well that I received 8 compliments about her today, not about me specifically, but about her... the dress. Maybe I should name her. Miss November seems kind of funny, but also oddly appropriate. I think I will have to be patient and see what she would like to be called.
People are certainly noticing that I have been wearing the same dress. A neighbor said in passing " I keep meaning to tell you that your dress is fabulous.". I wonder if it registered that she keeps meaning to tell me because I wear it every day? Another neighbor just looked up and down the dress and smiled. I have run into them at least 4 days in a row. I keep telling myself that perhaps they haven't noticed yet because my sweater or my shoes are different. I think this is denial, they must be noticing, I won how long it will take before they ask me something? Or will they just ignore it? As more keeps being added, Miss November is getting harder to ignore.
Sunday, November 14, 2010
What is Art? I have been giving a lot of thought to this concept lately. Why is it some people are so compelled to make it, why do some people need it, and what creates enjoyment out of it? Why am I an artist? Why does it some times feel like saying that I am an artist makes me feel like I am taking an easy way out, when really it is very difficult to be one? What is it about making art that some people see as a luxury or even view as a non profession?
During our studio sale today, a friend came over and hung out on our couch. I was joking that we would make him for sale and he could be sold as a guy who would hang out on your couch for a year. We put his price at 1 million dollars and then he said " I don't think I could sit on some ones couch for a year for a million dollars, it would be really hard." We all had a laugh about the difficulties of having to stay in one place for a not so worthwhile sum of money, but you know, I have been thinking about this as a rather interesting metaphor. It WOULD be really hard to stay in one place for any amount of money or income, at least for me personally. I am not trying to make any judgements about this for any one else. Perhaps this is why I am an artist? I crave a kind of methodical and sometimes abruptly random change of thought/direction regularly. Being an artist allows for this kind of freedom, but with this freedom comes a certain amount of instability. You kind of have to be fearless to live like this, either that or completely comfortable with the unknown. At a time where many people are experiencing this as a result of a major economic down turn, I am grateful that I am an artist, for me an economic downturn becomes a time in which to reinvent oneself. In my case however, at least with regards to this project, I feel like I am not reinventing, but defining.
A sweater has been added. Now she is so nice and warm. Sequins are begging to explode across her surface. I also feel like her back has been neglected, time to bring in some balance.
Friday, November 12, 2010
I am finding loop holes in my project, but trying to resist them. Like yesterday, I wore the dress all day with jeans and a thermal shirt on underneath, but as soon as I got home I HAD to take the dress off. I laid my pj's out on the bed, but then I got distracted and forgot to put them on. A friend came over for dinner and called me out. Oops! So I changed.
I have started to get a lot of comments about Andrea Zittel and her AZ Uniform. The comparison is interesting because I have been thinking a lot about uniforms lately. What I am realizing is that uniforms in a way make things easy, they are a kind of control group in a whole range of fashionable or unfashionable variables. They can define a person solely based on aesthetics: private school student, janitor, doctor, mechanic etc. But what I am seeing in my own project is how by altering the uniform I am trying to wriggle away from the stereotype of a woman who dresses in the same garment. Hmmm, a woman whom dresses in the same dress, what does this mean? I am changing it, transforming it, trying to make it change with me. Maybe I am trying to change myself by trying to change it. Although I wear this dress daily, I still feel like it is an accessory. I wonder, if one day I shall wake up and it shall just be a part of me, a part of who I am and when my body moves to the next dress it will feel like shedding my skin?
I went for a hike today up Mt. Philo and wore my L.L. Bean shearling duck boots. I felt like I was channeling my inner Gutter Punk. I started to feel a little self conscious watching all the hikers in their lightweight hiking garb and started to wonder what they must have thought about this woman in a dress and mud boots hiking in Shelburne. I guess this could have been seen as exercise and I could have chosen to wear something else, but I felt like I needed to know what it felt like to hike in this dress.
The dress is morphing now... It is no longer a little black dress, i added part of an old wool sweater to the top and now it is warmer. I also sewed a little humming bird to honor the memory Deborah Veselka,my science teacher who was also my first teacher for my first class ever, in my first uniform ever, for 6th grade at The Kinkaid School in Houston.
Pictures soon to follow.
Thursday, November 11, 2010
I think today I will cut off the top of the dress and replace the sheer lace with part of an old wool sweater. It is hard to wear sweaters over the dress with out things looking bulky and akward.
I cleaned out the closet. Sorry no pictures of this, but it looked like it could have come right out of an episode of Hoarders. I even had some anxiety about committing to get rid of a skirt that I have had for 4 years but only wear once a year. It was rough. I took everything to a second hand store where they supposedly pay you cash for clothes, but apparently my chlothes were "too mature" for their shoppers...OMG! That statement made this project all the more worth while.
Now I have only things to sleep in and work out in inside my dresser drawers.
People are starting to notice that I am wearing the same dress. Only one person has asked about it. He's 10 and a student of mine. He wanted to know why I was wearing "that fabulous dress once again." I explained the project to him and he was excited about it.
I am going to print up some cards to hand out to folks when people ask me about my dress that will direct them to the site, but also inform them that the dress I am wearing is art. Art art art, the dress I am wearing is art, not the person in the dress, right?
Yesterday I washed the dress. I used a mild all natural detergent called Ecover delicate wash. I filled the bath tub up and mashed the dress in the suds. I let it soak for 20 minutes while constantly agitating the water and the dress. Then I rinsed it out twice and I wrung the water out by hand and then hung it over the faux fireplace to dry. It was dry by morning which was great!
Had a hard day with the project. I even broke down to Clark questioning my sanity with this project. Am I crazy to do this? Yes, I think you kind of have to be. I think what I find most frustrating is that I still have a closet full of clothes and drawers of things that I am obviously not going to wear for the next year and I don't know what to do about it. Hmmm, looks like it is time to clean out the closets.
The documenting process of this project has also been difficult. I think what is going ton happen is that I am not going to pose while wearing the dress. Perhaps only one posed picture will happen per week. The rest will be of me doing my thing, going about my usual routine while in the dress. I encourage anyone who bumps into me to take a picture and post it either via FB or by emailing it to me to post at firstname.lastname@example.org. As a friend recommended, I don't want this to be too contrived but also not too Nan Goldin ( although I personally have always liked her work) I do get the picture... Aha a little electronic pun.
I blew my hair dry today and wore heels all day. As soon as I got home the dress came off and the PJs came on. It felt good to just wear my I <3 NYC shirt and sweat pants.
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
How will my hair and make up change over the year? Will I shave this winter? This project is making me question my entire aesthetic person. What will change over the year? What will Hold steadfast?
Laundry day tonight. The dress gets it's first wash in the sink with a little detergent and will be hung up to dry. Will it be dry tomorrow? My oh my oh my.... Curiouser and curiouser....
Oh yes sorry if my spelling stinks I am working off an iPad and it autocorrects not so correctly.
Next thing to think about... Getting better photo equipment for the daily shots.
Monday, November 8, 2010
I started another new dress today in the studio. This one is absorbing some old trapunto wall pieces I made that really had nothing to offer other than cool textures. "Penumbra,2007" made it to the chopping block today. I have a code of art making where I don't usually go into an existing piece that has been publicly shown many times over, but she was screaming to be released from her square format. Now, "Penumbra" lives as part of a really fantastic curve line along a hip on my new dress. A small part of her did make it into my November dress. It is a little circle to honor and remember the original "Penumbra."
BTW- This new dress is not to be confused with the dress I am wearing.... This one is for me to wear, but for another project... I think? Maybe they are all about the same kind of concept- a part of a larger project or aesthetic, but I will leave that up to the writers and critics and other art folk to decide that... I am trying to learn to be a maker and not an interpreter, at least with my own work.
One major thing I noticed today is that I am starting to feel like my shoe collection is rather limited, especially with the need for warmer, drier foot wear. I am thinking a variety of cute boots are in my future. I am also seeing the need for a wool petticoat. Damn! It was cold today!
Still felt normal wearing this dress again today. It will be interesting when I wear it tomorrow to take care of little kiddos.
Sunday, November 7, 2010
Guidelines for The Dress That Makes The Woman are as follows:
1. Wear one dress everyday for a month while transforming it into a couture self portrait
2. Photograph myself in the dress daily
3. Exceptions to rule #1 includes sleeping and working out
Aside from when I was in middle school wearing uniforms, today was the first day that I knew exactly what I was going to wear. The dress I have created as the base material to wear for the month of November comes from three separate black dresses. Each dress represents a significant time in my life. The first dress is made by Sole Mio. It was purchased when I was 15 years old while on vacation in Aspen. I wore it to a high school formal. The second dress is Lulu Lux a sheer gauzy prom style dress worn when I was17 for a series of photographs for a high school art project. The third dress is by Adu Gluck-Frankel for necessary objects. I purchased it to wear to a wedding in 2005 . A year later I wore it for an artist who wanted to paint my portrait in it. This dress is one of the reasons I am now married and a mother.
In combining these three little black dresses into a "starter" little black dress, I am combining elements of my past and forcing them to fit my present needs. I want to start this project off with each dress being up cycled from something that has
meaning to me but I also want to make them a reflection of who I am and not just how I have seen myself. In a way it is an exercise in being present.
I am inspired by the little black dress, which, according to Coco Chanel is all any woman needs to be fashionable. The little black dress suits any woman of any taste. I have also chosen black because it is what I am most comfortable in. I want to start this project or performance off in comfort.
Wearing the dress for the first time today brings excitement as well as some trepidations. I am excited because this means no more wondering what to wear everyday. It also means accessories accessories accessories; in the form of footwear, outerwear and jewelry. It also means doing what I love to do with sewing and altering clothes to suit my daily needs, moods, and social calendar. What scares me is the performative aspect of this project. Will I be able to do this? Will I have the courage to see this to the end? I hope so. I am going to try to channel Marina Abramovic, Sophie Calle, Cindy Sherman, Tracy Emin- my female heroines of performance and art and fashion. I am also going to add a little bit of inspiration from The Art Guys and their project "The Clothes Make The Man;" the title of which I am obviously basing this performance on.
I think of myself as a couture installation artist, however,this time the installation is on my body and will take place in my own daily life. This is like Performative Couture Art. It will certainly be an interesting experiment.