I needed a day to really reflect on my experience with Elizabeth. Wow, she was a tough dress and persona to crack. I think that with each addition I was building a kind of guardedness and adding another piece to the fortress of a dress she became.
Elizabeth was a very warm dress to wear. Granted January is a very cold month here in Vermont, and Elizabeth did keep me warm, but almost too warm at times. I had grown accustomed to the ritual of taking off layers upon settling into a inside space, but with her I just took off my jacket and then there was nothing to do. So when I got too warm, I just forced myself to acclimate. No wonder my family kept saying that our home was so cold, I was just sweating away inside all those layers; which is why in the end I started to cut away at some of the double layers to reveal only the linear forms they had created.
Elizabeth started off as a simple brown wool sweater dress and she transformed herself into this decorative wool and lace portrait of tough and proud woman. I think that even I, Wylie, at times was intimidated by her. I can say that I was ready to have this dress over with. I am still sitting in sweet relief that this morning I did not have to put her on. Why? What was it about this persona that made me so reluctant every morning to wear? Could Elizabeth be a subliminal portrait of myself? I am sure all of these dresses are portraits in one way or another, but as the year continues, how far are they going to dig, how deep am I willing to take this? Where do my lines between art and life finally merge and become one? Although I doubt I will really ever loose myself in this project actually taking on the persona completely from the beginning, how much of each past persona carries over into the next?
In the end, I discovered some things about myself and this project that I feel important to note here:
1. I am beginning to feel a responsibility to myself and my community to wear these dresses out in the public realm more, something that both excites and scares me terribly!
2. Although I personally enjoy fading into the woodwork, there is obviously a part of me that loves the attention
3. I am actually going to DO THIS for a YEAR!
4. I am constantly searching for ways to push forward my creative abilities and sensibilities.
5. I am a pretty modest person at heart, but there is something thrilling about wearing couture everyday, something I have always dreamed about but never realized I had the power to make possible. Ah, the power of personal possibilities.
6. I am the artist I set the rules
7. I am like a switchboard operator with my multitasking prowess, how do I ever get it all done? I don't know, I just do.... things have a way of getting done...
8. I don't have to sew every day.... see #6...
9. I am so glad I chose to start this project.
10. Hair hair Hair, oh my!
I feel it important to stop here and also note the importance of my final portraits taken with Elizabeth in the snow holding a hand stitched pillow with a dog. The universe shined down with the grace of an amazing record snow fall the night before the last day of wearing Elizabeth. It was almost too perfect not to incorporate it into the image of a cold, snowy and guarded woman. The pillow of the dog I am holding is also very significant. It marks the life of a very amazing and missed little family member, Chuy Garcia, who died two weeks ago and I still get weepy about. He was the last of my childhood pets to pass on. In the tradition of regal Holbein portraits, I chose to include him as a symbol of remarkable character; Chuy may have been a chiuaua, but he never acted like one and was the calmest, sweetest, and most valiant little dog I knew. You can't judge a dog by his size.
So now where am I, sitting here after a full day of wearing the new girl. I can't believe that dress fit me. I had been working on her on the dress form for about a month now and at the suggestion of a very talented artist who's work I admire and respect greatly, here I am wearing it for the next month! Why not wear a dress that I have already started and brought thus far only to dedicate a month of very meticulous scrutiny and work ethic to? It is all an experiment and a journey so here goes the next adventure in dressland.
My thoughts about this new dress can be summed up by my worries about how in the world I am going to wash her? She is all white and oh there is so much snow and dirty snow and dirty dust around... perhaps a way to elevate the train? She is very comfortable so far, but I am looking forward to taking her far within this week... so many ideas percolating... the piles I have collected for this month need to be reassessed. This is not the dress I had envisioned starting this month with, but sometimes the best art comes out of the unexpected. Back to the drawing board.