Alexa DeFord

BFA in Art & Design

Death Dress

Death Dress is an installation featuring the garment that I wish to wear when I die, complemented by photographic prints of death garments designed by other individuals. This project aims to explore the anxieties society has surrounding death. Historically, there have been many attempts to avoid discussions around death, causing heightened anxiety when death arrives. As there are little healthy coping mechanisms to deal with death in present-day society, Death Dress allows viewers a positive space to contemplate death through creativity.

An image of the light pink, satin dress, that I would like to wear when I die, placed in a casket. The dress features seven round shapes made of beads, sequins, and string.

An image of the dress in a casket, with hand placement highlighting the center shape.

An image of the dress in a casket.

The frontal view of the dress. Each shape is inspired by previous artworks of mine. The colors of the dress have been my favorite colors since I was a child. Each element represents my fun, outgoing personality, artistic abilities and dedication to my creative practices.

Detailed shapes sitting below the left and right shoulders, made of string, sequins, and beads.

Detailed shapes near the right side and bottom of the dress.

Detailed shapes near the left side and center of the dress.

Sketches done by eight interviewees after being asked the question, “What do you want to wear when you die?”

Three of the earliest iterations of my garment. As I continued to research, I went in different directions and became unsure of my overall goal. These sketches show how a body is constantly deteriorating, no matter how hard people try to avoid this. They stand as a reminder that death is upon us. I decided not to proceed with these sketches, as they depicted death as scary and negative.

Three iterations of my final garment. I began to think about my personality, favorite colors, and previous artworks. Each of my textile works features large, round, abstract shapes that consist of many colors and layers. I combined each of these aspects in these sketches.