After a Fashion: The Funeral Clothes Project
Everyone has them, the things that don’t “spark joy” but instead serve as painful reminders of grief. What does it look like when they come together and see the light of day?
After a Fashion (The Funeral Clothes Project) is a series of fabric artworks made from clothing worn in mourning. Inspired by a personal experience with a dress she wore to her mother’s funeral and could never bring herself to put on again, Spencer Merolla asked family, friends and strangers whether they also had clothing too tainted by association to wear. Slowly she began collecting clothes—sometimes decades old—that had languished unworn in the backs of closets, too distressing to wear and too sentimental to just throw away.
Handling these testaments of grief is a powerful experience, as every garment comes with a story. Joining them together creates an opportunity for otherwise private griefs to come together across time and space, refashioned into a testament to our shared experiences of loss and remembrance.
This exhibition is part of Reimagine End of Life, a week of events and programming exploring big questions about life and death.
About Spencer Merolla
Spencer Merolla studied religion as an undergraduate and had embarked on a career in academia before returning to her first love, visual art. Her work has explored the social practice and material culture of grief through various affectively-charged materials. Merolla has shown nationally and in London, most recently at the Bard Graduate Center, Invisible Dog Art Center, Rush Arts Gallery, and the Fed Galleries at Ferris State University. Her work has been featured on Hyperallergic, The Jealous Curator, and The Creators Project. She has also authored an essay, “The Accidental Archivist,” which appeared in Modern Loss, edited by Gabrielle Birkner and Rebecca Soffer, and published by Harper Wave in 2018. She is based in Brooklyn.