THE CASKET GIRL
Materials: crepe and spandex fabrics.
Surface design technique: hand stitching and thread pulling fabric to form circles inspired by fungi on tree logs.
This dress is inspired by the casket girls and their similarity to my personal experience. I was raised in a decently strict Christian background. Just like the casket girls’, my community believed that purity is a virtue. Girls were obligated to vow as a picture of worthiness and pride even if it’s against their will. It is believed that purity is a treasure that girls should keep for their future husbands. The idea of abstinence is good, but when it is used as a tool to trade, it renders others worthless. Many young people (often in less privileged areas) in Indonesia today still feel the pressure to get married just for the sake of avoiding sinful temptations. The casket girls, also known as comfort girls, were virgin girls who got sent away off their homeland to marry the French colonies of Louisiana. The name came from the chests/ caskets in which they carried their clothes. The casket girls were “recruited” from church and charitable institutions such as orphanage and convents. They were poor, but guaranteed to be virgins, which later became a matter of pride in Louisiana to descent from them. This is one of the first mark that affects the development and establishment of European colony in the New World. Even when it appears to not be bloody, it is in a way, a virgin genocide. In this work I emphasize the innocence, purity, and strength of a woman. Inspired by their story and confidence in fitting in to the new world, I relate to my personal journey as immigrant and how to be comfortable in my own skin, embracing my sexuality.