These pieces are an exploration of religion, the female body, and my own experience navigating them, both as a child and as an adult. Growing up in Christian spaces greatly affected my mentality surrounding my body and how I inhabited it. My body was seen as sinful, something inherently bad that I should feel shame for. Through my work I explore my experience as a child in the church, my relationship with my body and sexuality, and the rhetoric I was taught to believe.
I chose to use fashion as my medium, with a focus on hand embroidery and beading. These disciplines are part of the ‘feminine arts’, mediums historically used by women and often considered lesser forms of art. Conversation surrounding these arts are rife with sexism and dismissals of the female experience, something mirrored in my experiences as a child in the church. The use of wearable fashion also emphasizes the physical connection between religion and the body. By wearing these clothes the model physically takes on the experience and pain that inspired them. The silhouettes and cuts of the pieces are heavily influenced by Victorian children’s clothing and medical imagery. The use of childlike imagery provides a contrast between the innocence of the silhouette and the mature nature of the content. The anatomical aspects reference both Victorian medical imagery and biblical themes; the rib that birthed Eve, the sacred heart, angel wings, and the hands of god. Each design evolved over the course of construction and as my own feelings were explored deeper and I fought with my instinct to make my art as palatable as possible, ending with a less polished look, more juvenile tailoring, and a level of grotesque that I originally omitted so as to not show vulnerability. These works are a raw reflection of the influence the church had on me and continues to have on other children.