I need to be honest about this dress. I hate it.
When I saw there was an Ian Davenport exhibition opening at Paul Kasmin Gallery, I knew I had to make a dress for it. I was so excited. I found a white dress and got to planning – I would tape off the stripes so I could paint each different color, and freehand the swirls at the hem. It would be FUN. I got to work.
Hours and days into the project, and I began to hate it. I toiled away, struggling with bleeding paint, fabric that was too thin, running out of supplies, and on and on. At some point along the way, I started to HATE the dress. I didn’t want to look at it anymore. It came to represent all of the challenges and frustrations of every project.
I couldn’t give up on it, not after I had invested so many hours. So I finished the dress, but I knew I hadn’t captured the essence of Ian Davenport’s painting. I didn’t want to wear it. But the invested time forced me to put it on and go to the gallery. At the gallery, the photos weren’t working. The lighting was difficult and the dress had gotten wrinkled, and everything was just WRONG.
I was so frustrated. I wasn’t going to post the photo. I needed a break from this whole thing. Art is hard. Replicating art is harder. Making art when you have a full-time job is nearly impossible. WHY BOTHER?
And then I realized that the struggles and trials of making something are a part of the experience. If it were easy, then everyone would do it. But they don’t, because it’s hard. Learning how to work with new mediums and styles and brushes and tape and paint is, actually, one of the best parts of making things. When something doesn’t turn out the way I want or expect it to, I need to embrace it. What else can you do? You can start from scratch or you can ROCK the thing that you made and let it speak for itself, telling the story of all of the things you learned from it.
So here it is, in all of its glory, the dress that gave me hell. But in the process, it also forced me to solve problems and embrace challenges, so maybe it was worth it. Maybe.
Photo by Kathy Paciello.