Two publications regarding “Common Dilemmas,” my recent collaborative exhibition with Joanne Easton, prompted reflection on how we, the artists, wrote about our work compared with the observations of an independent art writer.
We co-authored an article on the advantages and complexities of collaboration, which was published by WEAD (Women Eco Artists Dialog) in their Artists At Work Issue. Joanne and I described the history of our work together, our distinct creative approaches and the Ostrich Feather Dress Project, a group endeavor we developed for the show.
Writer and artist Christopher Squire saw the show and was prompted to write ‘Footnotes on the Ostrich Feather Wedding Dress Project: Wearing the Beast,” which was published in Dissolve SF in February, 2017. His article focused on our group endeavor, but also included commentary on our collaboration.
I learned from reading Christopher’s response to our work and from comparing it to what we had written. Our account was descriptive and explanatory. We focused on sharing our creative journey with the reader. Christopher’s take, in comparison, communicated less information in a more poetic way. Unburdened by the history of the project, his perspective was less pedantic and fresher.
Consider our respective descriptions of the project:
Joanne and I wrote: “Research into our relationship with the ostrich, specifically our desire to adorn ourselves with its feathers, led us to purchase an ostrich feather wedding dress on eBay for $50. We invited artists to borrow the dress for a week and create a two-dimensional or wall hung three-dimensional work inspired by it. For many months the dress travelled between various studios in the bay area, resulting in thirteen diverse creative responses. Each Ostrich Feather Wedding Dress Project work reflects both the dress and the aesthetic perspective of the artist. The dress inspired photographs, drawings, paintings, relief and sculpture that visually comment on fashion, gender, desire, waste and more. When hung together, the pieces reflect many facets of this loaded garment.”
Christopher offered this: “For Joanne Easton and Lorna Stevens, a secondhand wedding dress purchased on eBay became the beginning of an exploration that grew to involve over a dozen new interpretations of the dress on the themes of constructed gender and marriage ideals, fetish, and fantasy. The garment is not the minimal, antiseptic gown of orthodoxy, but its wild cousin. Festooned with an unruly, downy border of snaking, white ostrich feathers engulfing the neck and wrists, drooping sleeves and an empire waistline, the dress makes space for new variations on a historical theme. In the Ostrich Feather Wedding Dress Project (OFWDP), Easton and Stevens reposition the wedding dress alongside the unusual secondary object of the ostrich egg, underscoring its role as an icon to explore the ambiguity inherent in signifiers—the physical form of a sign, as distinct from its meaning.”
So thank you, Christopher for your inspired thoughts on our project and for reminding me to apply creativity to my written words.