JoAnna Johnson is a textile expert; she made the dresses from bolts of fabric reminiscent of late 19th century women’s attire. She then places the empty dresses in a variety of natural settings in Texas and New Mexico. The work is part performance art, part textile culture, part feminist statement, part installation art, and part photography. They are haunting because of the presence reinforced by the absence of the wearers of these dresses. This other worldly feeling becomes stranger and more keenly understood as the locations and displays change.
There is the strength of a sisterhood of the group brought together. The gentleness and grace of the female spirit inhabits the spaces where these dresses slowly dance as memories of past gatherings, and feminine rituals. They are soft, flowing, and vulnerable as black orchids, and of course, as silent as the grave. The silence in these pictures is deafening, while everything in them and around them seems to be holding its breath. These pictures are suggestive and poignant, leaving one with the feeling that, as viewers, we are walking among victims and goddesses, all at the same time.