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Art Gowns: Queen Isabella

By Resa McConaghy:

A dear friend of mine, Isabella, is fighting cancer, and I wanted to do something special for her to show my support. As always, my answer was . . .

“I’ll make an Art Gown and dedicate it to her!”

Do you remember when the red ribbon was adopted for AIDS? It was the first “awareness” ribbon that I remember.

Now we have many ribbons for many causes. Yet, no illness has claimed more ribbons than cancer. Unfortunately, there are many diseases demanding research dollars. I fear we need to revisit supporting cancer research; you need only look beside you to see that cancer is still raging away after all these years.


As Art Gowns must reuse, up-cycle, or repurpose, I challenged Isabella to donate something she’d been hanging on to for years but didn’t use anymore.

She challenged me back and gave me a very textured dress. The color made me think of a purple peacock. Does such a creature exist?

I also thought of the pink ribbon for breast cancer and the purple for pancreatic cancer.

The dress was dismantled and draped on a different angle. The textured bodice demanded a skirt to surpass it.

I found a pic online, but it looked manipulated. Nonetheless, I was up for something peacock-like.

Bouffant mock feathers were assembled.

Random strips were cut from a vintage curtain lace, bought for $0.75/yd at a liquidation sale. Acrylic paint with fabric medium was daubed on irregularly, creating a visual texture.

Partial random ruching created volume and a feeling of ruffled feathers. I kept piling on the ruffles.

She was a joy to shoot! I shot her in various lights:

On a cloudy day

At night under a red lightbulb