I asked Jen if she would write something for me about the wedding dress costume, and the painting Battle Dress. This is her take:
For the theatrical numbers of NJC shows I search for costumes that have a strong visual impact and use commonly understood icons and archetypes. I have been wanting to wear a wedding dress for an NJC show for some time: it's recognizable, and carries an emotional weight for many (including myself). My vision to make it tattered and bloody was of an innocent seeing some horrors that she was never prepared for. She seeks to escape or embrace the reality of living, destroying her white dress in the process. The Battle Dress painting illustrates that I'm too big for that dress, and the tattoos and androgyny clash with the archetype of a naïve, veiled bride. Wearing that dress in itself was a battle; I could not shake the image of childhood dress-up where we practice societal roles with my own conflicting emotions over a failed marriage. That discomfort and emotional weight was captured beautifully in this painting, especially with the pastoral background where I could imagine a lavish wedding was taking place.
Jen Rae 2017