The Dress Contains a Story

When I was in my twenties, I interned at an arts advocacy organization in Seattle. I mostly spent my time there filing and sorting mail. Most of what came in the mail were press releases for gallery openings. I spent a lot of time looking at the images on those press releases, trying to figure out what made something draw me towards it, what made something push me away. One day, a card came in with a photograph of a dress printed on its surface. The fabric of the dress was delicate, threaded with veins as if it were translucent skin. The body of the dress looked like a map; the veins and arteries that ran across its surface to its heart were like streams gathering toward a delta that opened into some emotional ocean that I couldn’t even try to name. I looked closer, and the veins were words. I stared at the picture and it seemed a novel was unspooling before my eyes, enigmatic, pulsing with mystery. In fact, the dress was called “Poem Dress.” The artist? Lesley Dill.


Here’s my prompt: take a look at this dress (Word Queen of Laughter, Lesley Dill, 2007) and see if you can put it into motion. What happens when the dress walks down the street? What happens when the dress sits down and its metal rings relax? Just watch it—what happens when it moves? Try to catch that movement with words. Let me know on my Facebook page what you come up with.

Lesley Dill, Word Queen of Laughter