Thursday, December 15, 2011

December 15, 2011, one month and one week post project

I am having a hard time finding the right kind of clothes to wear.
I find myself wanting to wear color, but regretting the way it makes me feel... So black clothes are what I revert to . Black and grey are my go to colors. Am I in mourning?

I have been asked by a lot of people "so what's next?". Well, I took some time off, with about two weeks of no sewing. I went back to an old passion of mine, historic painted theater backdrop conservation and research. Check out our website at

I then got a call from a friend in Houston who is opening an amazing boutique called La Camella and I started making t-shirts again. I am also working on a couple of dresses and fascinators for this store too.

I also picked up two wedding dress commissions, which I am very excited about.

Life goes on... But my evenings are now spent doing more reading rather than sewing. What am I reading? The Sookie Stackhouse Novels by Charlaine Harris, of course! Easy, fun, and thrilling.

I would also like to thank the Vermont Studio Center and the Sustainable Arts Foundation for a month long fellowship residency granted to me for this spring! So see, there now.... I will have some uninterrupted time to cook up something new. Perhaps my Josef Beuys ideas?

I also realized that there were some folks I forgot to thank for their support and friendship with this project... I am sorry I forgot to name you all.. But that doesn't mean I am not grateful for your wonderful help and support.

So I know I promised a calendar In the works... And yes, there will be one, but one for the next year. I need to organize this blog, get some images printed and collect all of my eggs... Then next year in 2012, November at G Gallery In Houston, TX I will display this amazing experience in all of it's glory.

So until then, keep checking back. I will have more to write as the new year approaches, happy holidays, warmth, and good cheer to all.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Journal Entries: Post Dress That Makes the Woman

November 6, 2011
Today is the last day.
Even though I am not wearing the dress, today is the last day.  I feel naked and under dressed wearing this t-shirt recently acquired from my friend Cathy, a pair of jeans, my vibram 5 finger shoes, and what?  what/ my feet feel good, but my chest and my legs feel naked. 
I am in the airport waiting to go back to Burlington.  The woman across from me...her mother is dying.  May she be free from suffering and the root of suffering.  The worry on her face is palpable.  May she experience grace and the root of grace.  I can feel her sadness in my own chest.  We all will experience this.  We all have.  The loss of a parent, a friend, a foe, the birth of emancipation, the mark of getting closer to spiritual freedom... it is sad as hell, but... it is sad as hell.
I keep thinking about this project. 
Did the dress break up with me?  When does an artist recognize when a pieces is over and done, what about if it is premature?
I suppose I could have fixed the zipper, but everything just felt done.  What now?  I feel loss.  Lighter. Missing something.  Naked is not the right word to describe this feeling.  Incomplete is not the right word either, that implies a feeling of being unfinished.  No this feels finished.  My goals accomplished. 
Holy Shit!  I did it!  One Year! Awesome! Huzzah, Hurrah, Yippee!  I feel proud of myself, accomplished, complete, but wait... yes, that is what this feeling is.  A completeness I have never felt before... hmmm something to contemplate.
My goal was to wear a dress for a month and work on it and explore how a garment... no, how my relationship with a dress has the power to transform... the idea was that the dress would ultimately make the woman and even though I was the one in control, ie, the woman who made the dress, I feel transformed, changed, altered... forgive the pun... ha ha. 
So now what? Sleep.  Rest. Jeans.  No more oh my god I have to work on this dress feeling.  No more creation anxiety... at least for a little while.  Relax.  Play with my son.  Work on other projects.  Give more of my attention to my other work.  Teaching.  Art consulting.  Curtains Conservation.  Public Art School.  Focus energies on building something lasing in my Burlington Arts Community.  I have some new ideas that now, I have no doubt that I will be able to see them through.  
The Thank Yous----
Special thanks to donors of this project, be it material, lace, clothing, emotional and financial.  
Thank you to my family, especially Clark and Asa, Y'all are my champions and I will never forget when Asa told me how beautiful my dress was.. what a memory for him to have, a year of mama in dresses.  Thanks to my own parents.  Thanks to my in laws.  Thank you Chris Teague for your wonderful comments and inspiring stories.  Thank you to Maggie, Beth, Lisa and Elisa for you donations to keep the blog rolling!  Thank you Vermont Arts Council for my Creation Grant to help fund this new round of projects.  Thank you to Strange Dolls, SEABA, Davis Studios, and Sarah Millis  for promoting my project on your social networking sites. 
Thank you to Christy Mitchell for being born...because if I wasn't in need of a birthday present for you on November 7, 2010, The Dress That Makes The Woman Project may have remained just and idea and not a realization.  Thanks to Het Haudenshield and Matt Chase for taking my sad pathetic phone calls and helping me to press on when I wanted to give up... I love you both soooo much!
Thanks to my Aunt Mary, who came through with the perfect final dress as well as financing the trip to the perfect final event for that dress and this project.  It was your night to shine and the dress knew it... and it could not have worked out any better, what a spectacular ending. 
Thanks to my mom for giving me clothes to wear post- dress that makes the woman.  If it wasn't for the black wool savior dress, I would have had to either go naked to the Museum of Fine Arts Houston or just pouted in my room. 
Thanks to my cousin Lisa for all the wonderful interviews.  You questions and kind ear encouraged and helped me shape and define some of my lofty aspirations for this project. 
Thank you to my dad for the fancy camera which resulted in better pictures.
Thank you to my brother for helping to zip me in the final dress and for capturing the final moments on his iphone of it's memorable malfunction. 
Thanks to Rick Levinson of RL photo for offering to document and photograph my girls in their final glory...
... and thank you to all of those friends and family for finally getting why I had to do this project.
 November  8, 2011
Again a feeling of nakedness creeps in.  What am I wearing?
November 14, 2011
I feel like I am cheating.  Like when I wake up, I owe the public something more spectacular than just my black jeans, black top and brown scarf.  Hmmmm looks like a day for red lips. 
November 15, 2011
Forgetfulness... feeling weird energy, like I should be doing something with my hands... but what?

Wylie Sofia Garcia

Thursday, November 10, 2011

November 10, 2011

Wow, so many emotions surfacing... I am writing them down in a journal, soon to be entered on the blog. I am currently pulling together images and more written journal entries to begin the editing process.... Soon the blog will be re formatted to read easier and all of the images will be posted. Stay tuned... Keep checking back, in a day or so there will be new pics.

Wylie Sofia Garcia

Saturday, November 5, 2011

November 4, 2011, Wylie

So here I am. 

Luckily I borrowed a black wool classic Banana Republic dress from my mom.  I had a needle and thread with me so I fixed the tights, and the rest is history.

Wylie Sofia Garcia

Sent from my iPhone

Camera, Zipper, Tights: the whole catastrophe

...allow me to explain...

It starts with the anticipation of this weekend.  This weekend, the final weekend, the end of my year wearing a dress everyday, working or attempting to work everyday on this dress, these dresses... Oi-vey!  Everything was being planned according to how I though I wanted this project to neatly end, like a pretty little package.  I was prepping for a first Friday art opening at the S.P.A.C.E. Gallery for their Make Art Repeat Show where the project originated a year ago.  The only decision that needed to be made was how is this project going to be displayed? As photographs? On models? On a clothing rack? On dress forms?  Well photos were not enough. This project was about these dresses on me, and their relationship to me, my body, my personality, my space, my art, my daily life, so models we out.  A clothing rack meant that people might take the garments off, touching them, moving them, which is no good... So dress forms it is.  

I had been watching a lot of Joseph Campbell lectures and was really inspired by the power and the symbol of the circle. Round. Continuous. A record of eternal passage, and yet directional in some cultures with a clear North, South, East, West.  So the gals, ie. The dresses on the dress forms, all 11 of them, were assembled in a circle in the gallery, all facing inwards, all looking at each other.  What are they thinking? Are they checking each other out? Are they proud? Happy? Sad?  I don't have an answer... I know, I know, I installed them, so what was I thinking?  I was thinking about the power of a year. The recorded history of one year in my life. Powerful. Humbling. Awkward. And lovely.... At least this is what I am feeling at this time... And then wham, an opportunity arrises..... Go to Houston,TX for the opening of my aunt and uncles's collection of Czech art.... This is a collection that is not only historic, but also one with which I have a huge connection to, they were building it as I was going to college at the University of Chicago.  I got to know it intimately as it was being defined, I photographed her bohemian glass pieces before there was ever a catalogue, I  helped move the collection from Chicago to Houston...because of this collection I was introduced To many wonderful people, artists, collectors, critics, curators... How could I pass this opportunity to see it in it's glory at the museum of fine arts, Houston?  But what about the dress project?

Here was my chance to wear my final dress, on one of the last days, to a social event in Houston with my family, and be me, wearing one of my own creations, what an fantastic end to such transformative and important project in my career as an artist.  

So I go to Houston and when I get there i pull out my camera to photograph the progress of the dress and the camera battery is dead.  Did I remember to pack the charger? No. Oops!  So I ask my brother to help me document things with his iPhone.  The night of the opening I am getting ready, hair done, nails done, make up done, new fancy tights with a sexy pattern, and my awesome heels, and the dress goes on and everything is looking good and then... Zipper... Zipper... Zipper.....come on now zipper... I know you will go up... Please, please go up.... Go.... FUCK!!!... Deep breath.... Sigh.... Commence the hearty chortle... The zipper is broken. The project is done, but not without snagging my awesome new tights and ripping a hole in them too...

My thoughts, were first to ask, why? Why tonight of all nights? Why did you have to take out the tights too?  But then I let go.... Because, dear dress, you are telling me that our relationship is over.  That you have had enough, and that tonight for the first time in a year, I have to go solo and just go as me.   

Begin forwarded message:

Sent from my iPhone

November 4, 2011

How does a project tell you it is done? That it has had enough of you, just when you thought you had enough of it? How does the universe laugh at you, remind you that there are no perfect endings and that not having a perfect ending is ok? How can we stay in the present and roll with the punches, learning to let go as we try in vain to preserve composure? I know how I do it. With an explicative, a deep breath, a sigh of relief, and a hearty chortle.

Allow me to explain...

Wylie Sofia Garcia


Friday, October 28, 2011

October 28,2011

"Myths are public dreams. Dreams are private myths. By finding your own dream and following it through, it will lead you to the myth world in which you live." - Joseph Campbell

Wylie Sofia Garcia

Monday, October 24, 2011

Ocotober 24, 2011

Oh I am getting there.
Added Pearls.. added lace... adding more. 
How many days left?  How do I feel?  Wow!

October 24, 2011


October 21, 2011

Went to Artist Abby Manock's installation performance at the Shelburne Art Center.  I was really excited about this piece she was doing for several reasons.  First I just love her work, the colors, the composition, how she divides space and unties it only to unite it with these threads, strings, pieces of fabric that are weighted down with paint cans or pieces of painted wood.  Second, I love that that some one else in Vermont it taking performance art seriously.  She has a way of connecting the audience to the performance, whether it is in the anticipation for it to begin, or even when something seemingly goes awry within the performance (like her paint compressor jamming as was the case with this one).  The audience keeps routing for her, wanting her to succeed, but in the end has us examining our own expectations we have as viewers and art lovers with performance.  What happens when a performance emphasizes the limitations of the materials used? and the gumption of the artist to keep the performance going, even to the bitter end... how long would we the audience have waited, once we all were clued into the "technical difficulties?"  Or was that the performance? Endurance? Perseverance? Do it til it's done mentality?  Lucky for Abby the compressor started to work again and her beautiful Santa Winter Wonderland was coated with a fresh coat of white paint.  Lastly I love that Abby's work, works on so many levels.  Was the white paint a symbol for snow? Impermanence?  a resetting of the season? a metaphor for a whiting out our environment, or the festivities of our environment making it generic, glazed over?  What ever the meaning, the sheer act of bringing such a good crew of spectators was worth the drive to the Shelburne Art Center to see her performance. As a witness to this event in the darkness of a cold autumn Vermont night, I realized that Autumn has officially arrived, that winter is around the corner and that there really is no better way to spend an evening with friends and strangers.... Thanks Abby for bringing us all together. 
To see more of Abby's work go to:

October 22, 2011

I was tired of tripping on the hem of this dress, so aweful to feel in danger because of something malfunctioning with your wardrobe... so I started to scrunch the hem up with large whip stitches.

October 21,2011

This is where I added the western shirt that my mom gave me. It never really fit right, but it reminded me of Texas.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

October 18,2011

19 days left.

Thinking about haircuts, new glasses, new clothes. Finding it hard to find new clothes, nothing really fits, looks good, or is on par with my standards. My standards of fashion have changed. I want a 3/4 length sleeve black wiggle dress made of wool with a zipper in the back, with a fabulous neckline.

I want a good top with texture, warmth, and asymmetry. I want a neat clean looking skirt. I want pants, but I want some good dark jeans with an impeccable cut and no fade, no wrinkles, and a good decent denim thread count.

I have been looking at Vidal Sassoon five point haircuts, loving some of the bob styles.

Thinking about daily contacts.

Thinking about how much work I put into Sofia today and how I forgot my camera. I pulled up the skirt hem with stitches, added a western top with sleeves only to cut it out today. I stuffed the back a la trapunto. I am still stitching names. I am putting love into this dress.

I haven't worn Sofia for two days. She has been in progress. I am listening to my body, and giving my lungs a break from her bodice. It is tight and i just had some structural body work done to open my ribs, my lungs, and that central trunk of mine. Choosing to let it breathe has been wonderful. Two days in exercise clothes has been great. As I get closer to the end, I am realizing how ready I really am.

Wylie Sofia Garcia

Thursday, October 13, 2011

October 12, 2011

I am feeling ready, ready to start working on this dress.  I thought I would leave it pristine, unsewn upon except for a stitched over layer of names, but now I realize that I can't not stitch on it.. I feel it, the surface is calling me. Tomorrow it shall change.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Calendar prep and art for sale

As I am gearing up for the final show that will display work from this project, I am realizing the most obvious thing to make is a calendar.  I am currently preparing images for a 2012 calendar production.  I will also be setting up a web link to pre-order your Dress That Makes The Woman Calendars (I will let you know when it is done).  Until then, if there is a picture that you think best represents one of the months please let me know... the more input the better.  I am going to keep the dresses with the month that they were produced in, but I am currently deciding whether or not to feature only the final images or if there was a particularly weak final image to put one of the more interesting daily images instead. 
I am also going to set up a link to a site where I will have art and fascinators for sale.  I have had multiple art shows come down and now I have a lot of work in stock.  Therefore if you are looking for a holiday gift or a gift for any occasion look no further... there will be an online sale, and as usual I will donate 50% to an organization or group in need--
Keep checking back for more details.
Wylie Sofia Garcia

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

October 11, 2011, Mikey

I have spent the morning stitching and thinking about the passing of a friend. 
I remember the first time I met Mikey.  I was sharing studio space at E-1 Studio Collective with artist Sage Tucker-Ketcham.  She came in and said this guy Mikey is coming by to work on some collaborations, he's crazy, but a good guy, I think you'll like him.  He walked in fresh cigarette tucked behind his ear, disheveled, jittery, brown jacket, mussed up hair, and had one hell of a laugh...memorable. Fast Forward several years later, I am newly married sharing a wonderful patch of grass one Saturday at the Burlington Farmer's Market with my husband Clark, when this guy and his son come to sit beside us.  Clark introduces us, " Wylie this is my bad ass artist friend Mikey, Mikey this is my bad ass artist wife, Wylie"... we sized each other up, shook hands and said something to the effect of nice to see you again and just broke out laughing... memorable.  From then on instant friends.  Occasionally I would join Clark for a quick surprise crit at Mikey's house and garage studio, offering suggestions, listening to stories, listening to music, looking at books, and poking fun at his pain splattered crocs.  Oh yes, Mikey painted in crocs... what a generous story teller.  What a fascinating and brutally honest artist.  Clark and I took him seriously, and respected his vision even if at times it was too Basquiat, or too DeKooning, or too Twombly... Clark and Mikey could banter the hell out of each other about what the other person was doing "wrong" with regards to their style... but it was all love, mostly all talk and all for the sake of making the other better, stronger and more brilliant...
I will never forget the time I walked into Select Design to see Mikey's new work, Clark told me I was in for a surprise... Fuck he did it...before me was a new vocabulary, a visual word anthology that belonged to no other artist other than Mikey Welsh, such texture floating on a surface of depth.  His colors were amazing, rich , vibrant, thick, seductive, scary, but above all amazing.   Mikey, your art much like your life is a beautiful abstraction, I am thankful your being graced my time line, you were a great friend, a devoted artist, a father, and companion to many.  You will be missed.     

October 11, 2011

The dress is good.  It swishes.  It takes up room.  It comands space around it.  I find myself walking around things so as not to have to squeeze by. 
It drags.  It was getting dirty and then I put it in the wash.  oops. but good oops. 
I am getting comments like: " Wow, you look pretty."  "Oh my" and "Is she the one with the ball gown on?"  There is no hiding in a gown.  You are out there.  Exposed.
I felt so exposed visiting my friend's parents in Northfield, that I couldn't muster the courage to wear it for the hour that we were there for.  I learned a lot about myself in that hour, feeling naked without the dress, even though I was wearing pants and a t-shirt underneath.  
The dress is also annoying me.  The top is not a perfect fit.  I pull it up and it still sags.  My chest, changed by motherhood does not have the props to keep the top up, even with the support bodice underneath zipped up to to a breath taking squeeze.  
I trip on the hem a lot. I lift up the skirt feeling like an exhausted Disney cliche.  Even my son reminds me that "Momma. your skirt is getting dirty."
I have not stitched on this dress yet.  I am stitching every day on a piece of silk. This silk will eventually become one wit h the dress, but for now I am getting to know the dress.  Her history is shared with someone else, she was given to me.  I am still learning a lot about her, while still stitching about me on the silk. There is a dialogue that is developing.  It is about space, language, in between spaces, and the shape language gives to in between.     

Monday, October 10, 2011

October 9, 2011

The first stitches have begun.
They start with the name of the dress. 
This is Sofia.  This is wisdom.  This is me.

October 8, 2011, a nod to artist Amy Caron

There is this awesome woman/artist who has been wearing a wedding dress every day for over a year.  My friend Maggie introduced me to her work.  For obvious reasons I am in love with Amy Caron's  project.  I specifically admire her because she has been wearing a dres similar to the one I have on every day for over a year, I am only wearing this for a month and it has already presented some issues after day 3.  
  You can find details about it at her website:
One of the pictures I have seen of Amy in her wedding dress is of her in the woods hunting... well at least that's what it looked like. 
I just came back from a friend's camp down in Roxbury, VT.  He let me hold his gun... let me just say, you can take the girl out of Texas, but you can't take Texas out of the girl.

FYI-  I learned to shoot when I was 8 at Heart O'The Hills Camp for Girls in Hunt, Texas.

A nod to Amy Caron


October 7, 2011, The beginning of the end, Front and Back

Here I am... day one of the last month.  I am wearing my aunts white gown.  It was too small so I had to add gussets along the side, then it was too big... so I am taking it in a little.  It comes with a tulle under layer.  It is marvelous!  My main fear is how dirty it will get. I am so happy this is the last month, I can't believe I am finally here.  

October 7, 2011 The beginning of the End, side view


Litany Against Fear Collar

I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain. -  Frank Herbert
I stitched this Litany Against Fear around the fur collar of the dress.  It comes from Frank Herbert's DUNE.  For me it seems right to stitch this, appropriate given the state of our global climate, local and abroad, the economic and agricultural, the political and the personal.  Fear is the source of so much, it is powerful, if faced it can create change, such a powerful change and understanding of our selves.  So, to remind me of why Hawthorne is so important as a metaphor for growth and protection, I chose my this quote.   

Hawthorne, Detail Closeups


Hawthorne, Front and Back


Hawthorne, October 6, 2011 Sides


Hawthorne, October 6, 2011

Pictures of attaching the final piece to Hawthorne, the collar with a wonderful quote from Frank Herbert.  I got to work all day at Helen Day in the middle of my exhibit.  It was interesting, I spent a good time watching movies on my ipad, drinking too much coffee and thinking about what I was going to say about my art for my artist talk later that evening.  

Wylie Sofia Garcia

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

New Proposal Project Piece.


Details for the Beuys Project

I have really been geeking out on Frank Herbert these days... I thought this was a great quote to go with a project about Josef Beuys.  And yes, Beuys is supposed to be mispelled in the typeface...
Also check out this wonderful link to a video that Hennesey Youngman produced... he really nails the definition of a personal mythology.  Note:  *** Explicit Language Warning expecially for my younger readers***

Hawthorne, details

Ok.  Hawthorne.  Hawthorne is all about the heart.  The name comes from a recent experience of having my chakras unblocked, an experience I have never had before.  The process goes something like you have a healer, they help you relax, they test for compromised or completely blocked charkra points and then spiritually cleanse you as well as place protective plants in/around the newly cleared chakra points.  I had several areas that were blocked, but the one I want to focus on here is my heart center.  
According to C. W. Leadbeater

"The he fourth centre, the cardiac, at the heart, is of a glowing golden colour, and each of its quadrants is divided into three parts, which gives it twelve undulations, because its primary force makes for it twelve spokes.."

C. W. Leadbeater, The Chakras, Quest Books, Theosophical Publishing House, Wheaton, Ill. p.13

The Heart Chakra is the centre from which feelings of love emanate. It is also associated with other virtuous emotions, such as joy, happiness, honesty, respect, compassion, understanding, and generosity, and with loving oneself in a sincere, non-egotistic way. This is also the chakra through which we connect with others whom we love or have affection towards. Once forged, these links are very hard to break, which is why people suffer so much through the break-up of a relationship or the loss of a loved one

This chakra is the centre of the positive (yang) Chi energy in the body, just as the Door of Life chakra is the centre of Yin Chi energy.  According to Mantak Chia, the left side of the heart chakra is red and positively charged, the right side is dark green and negatively charged, and the core of the heart centre is pure white

The red would clearly correspond to the rose light of love, while the green signifies the lower or gross emotional body functioning of the heart centre, which is focussed on self, security, and accumulation of and attachment to and pride in physical and emotional possessions.  The white of course signifyies spiritual purity.

Just as for men (and masculine women) the logos (reason) or head centre is extremeely important, so for women (and feminine men) it is the eros (love) or heart centre that is of great significance. According to Mantak Chia, when this chakra is open, its energy connects to the breasts, and it generates the virtues of the heart through the whole body [p.240]

The heart chakra is very important in spiritual healing.  According to Barbara Brennan, all ll the energies metabolised through the chakras travel up the central nadi of the body and into the heart chakra, before moving out through the hands or eyes of the healer [Brennan, p. ]

When the heart centre has been fully opened, it becomes the channel for Universal Love; what the Buddhists call Mahakaruna ot "the Great Compassion", and esoteric Christians and Theosophists the "Christ Consciousness".  Once opened, the Higher Self or Immortal Divine Soul is able to work through this centre.  This is probably why in so many cultures the heart is said to be the seat of the soul.

Ok, so my healer placed Hawthorne inside of 4th center to help protect my heart.  Hawthorne is a plant I knew very little about, let alone could not identify, but now after this experience, I see Hawthorne everwhere, including outside of my studio window, at the end of my street, on nature walks with my son and just about everywhere I go. 
Hawthorn has played a major role as a medicinal plant since the turn of the century. During the Middle Ages, it was a folk medicine for all heart-related ailments, including "emotions of the heart." I consider it to be an adaptogen for the cardiovascular system because it keeps proper balance, conserves energy and increases the abihty to cope with stress, whether physical, mental or emotional.

Since the late 19th century, hawthorn has been used successfully as a cardiac tonic to regulate circulation as well as treat both high and low blood pressure, rapid or arrhythmic heartbeat, inflammation of the heart muscle, angina pec-toris and early signs of circulatory problems due to aging. It is also helpful for menopausal symptoms and arteriosclerosis.

Wild Plant: Hawthorn {Crataegus spp.}

Family: Rose {Rosaceae}

Description: Shrub or small tree with long, slender, sharp thorns along the branches.

Habitat: Meadow edges, thickets, open spaces and pastures.
To honor the Hawthorne plant that is proecting my most valuable and sacred life force, I deticate this month's dress to it. 

A visit from a beautiful Wood Pecker, October 4, 2011

Heart beat of the earth...

Hawthorne on September 28th, 2011

Ah yes, the paver, one of the many utility trucks in my life right now.   My son is such a huge fan of BIG trucks!