As we mark the centennial anniversary of the 19th amendment and women's right to vote in the United States, I wanted to consider home textile production consistent with the time period. Crocheted lace was widely popular in clothing, accessories and decor in the first two decades of the 20th century. Irish crochet lace is deeply tied to botanical representation, and with this in mind I began to research floriography, a cryptological communication through the use or arrangement of flowers. I designed the floral motif for this piece based on the family of plants that contain Capsaicin, the chemical found in hot chili peppers. Used in topical pain relief, Capsaicin is more famously known as the burning oil used in pepper spray, that tiny bottle of protection that reality forces some of us to keep handy on our key chains, to injure and temporarily blind an attacker. I wanted to convey the lack of a means of defense for women throughout history and underscore that sexual misconduct will not go unpunished. What if lace, a textile often tied to seduction could both convey consent and serve as protection for the wearer? A group of flowers rendered together in a motif is called a “spray” of flowers. By creating a pepper spray lace collar, I mean to reveal how far we have come as a culture in the last 100 years, and to highlight the lack of progress, which has forced the recent "Me Too" movement.
Hand knit sweater using artist's dental records, wool yarn 36" x 28" X 10" (Sweater installed on mannequin bust)
We think of clothing as protection, but must also recognize its function as relentless self-identification. It is that which wraps around our vulnerable bodies shielding us, and making disclosures to an audience of fellow players. “Dentata” is the livery of a war cry. Folklore describes a toothed vagina, the implication being that sexual misconduct will not go unpunished. My own dental records are used here to create the pattern for a toothed sweater.