I have loved fashion since I was a little girl. Some of my earliest memories are of visiting my grandfather’s garment factory in South Boston. He manufactured women’s clothing and I marveled at the huge bolts of fabric, the meticulous pattern makers and industrial stitching machines. His designer was a woman in her 20’s whom I simply worshipped. My grandfather would have his team create miniature versions of their designs for my sister and me, until we were old enough to go ‘shopping’ right off the revolving racks in his facility.
Into my adulthood, my love for fashion grew, but I went through a period of deeply resenting the fashion industry for teasing me with clothes that I could neither fit into nor afford. In fact, much of my art over the past 20 years has commented on my complicated relationship with fashion and its direct influence on the cultural epidemic of negative body image. As I’ve aged, I still can’t fit into most of the fashion I revere and I am still overwhelmed by the price tags, but something has shifted in me.
While I still struggle with ambivalent feelings, I have come to terms with the fact that I am deeply and unapologetically moved by fashion. I find it to be creative and innovative. I love the power, confidence and individuality it offers women. I am enamored with the color, shape, texture, fluidity and form of fashion. And, I am happy that the fashion world has begun to embrace women of different shapes and sizes (There is still a very long way to go, but this fashion season, I have seen more curvy women and racial diversity than ever).
This series celebrates fashion and power. The women on my canvas’ are striding with confidence, style and strength. They are influenced by the fashion seen on the pages of magazines, on the red carpet and fashion runway, but have made it uniquely their own. I am asserting authority, individuality and fearlessness. On these canvas’ I am putting into play my own fantasy of becoming a fashion designer by dressing these women in found papers with distinct pattern, texture and print.
Dresses are built from torn, layered billboard papers that I’ve torn down and repurposed as fashion. I love the use of these rich, textured paper that have layers of history and are then transformed into modern style.