The Dress Project
This project was made possible through the 5-County Arts Fund, a Pennsylvania Partners in the Arts program of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency. It is funded by the citizens of Pennsylvania through an annual legislative appropriation and administered locally by the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance. The Pennsylvania Council on the Arts is supported by National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency. The 5-County Arts Fund is also supported by PECO, an Excelon Company. Some Montgomery projects are also funded, in part, by an appropriation from Montgomery County. For additional information about these grants, visit the Cultural Alliance online at http://www.philaculture.org
5-County Arts Fund of the Philadelphia Cultural Alliancefor a project she initiated and completed September 2005- August 2006. She worked in partnership with the Women's Caucus for Art (Philadelphia Chapter) and also invited WCA member artists nation-wide to contribute to an artistic collaboration called the Dress Project. The goal of the project was to stimulate thinking about topics of interest to the group, which impact them as women artists. Another goal was to help satisfy the mission of WCA, which is to increase awareness and recognition of women in the visual arts through various venues, such as exhibitions, community outreach activities, workshops, and collaborative projects.
The Dress Project addressed such themes as women’s sexuality, gender stereotypes, and female role models. Due to the wide range of imagery received, Riukas hoped to create a statement about the different levels of female personal identity. This project involved drawing, painting, stitching, batik, printmaking, quilting, and writing on individual fabric panels that were then assembled by Riukas into a unique sculptural dress (144”x144). During the creation of the piece, a series of WCA member workshops were held for drawing, painting, and printmaking on fabric. In addition, Riukas led a community outreach event in which the public contributed to the collaboration and she also led a workshop at Journey Home Community Center Art Gallery to invite the participation of their artist members. More than 100 men, women, and children contributed 10” x 12” fabric panels incorporating their own imagery. A public exhibition of the final project was exhibited at the Highwire Gallery in Philadelphia, PA during the summer of 2006. It was part of a WCA group members show which was also curated by Diana Riukas.