Art show using repurposed wedding dresses to raise money for House of Ruth Maryland

Posted at 6:16 PM, Jun 06, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-06 18:16:56-04

Brigitte Winter loves to make jewelry. In her latest collection, the lace used in her necklaces and earrings has extra significance. It comes from her wedding dress, which holds memories she'd rather forget.

"I am survivor of intimate partner violence and I was looking for a way to repurpose my dress that would be really positive," she said.

Winter is the co-founder of No Discipline Arts Collective and for a long time has wanted to do a project of  transforming wedding gowns belonging to survivors of intimate partner violence, like herself.

She invited 24 other artists to come and take pieces of six donated gowns and make them into art. Some of the dresses came from survivors of abuse and others from women who support them.

"Its so great to see these objects that are loaded with so much significance, broken down and transformed into something that is so full of hope and so full of inspiration," said Winter.

Back in January, the artists carefully cut up the gowns and let their imaginations and creativity do the rest. They turned the pieces of fabric into beautiful works of art, like jewelry, photographs, oil paintings and sculptures.

"I hadn't anticipated how heavy and how moving and emotional it was going to be for everybody involved," said Winter. "Which is part of why the transformation process has been so powerful."

The art work will go on display, and be for sale, at an event on June 8 called "Redressed." Its being held at Chase Court in Baltimore, which is typically used as wedding venue. The meaning is not lost on Chase Court owner David Egan.

"The transformational aspect is really important to us," he said. "We're taking something that is terrible that happens in marriage sometimes, domestic violence, and transforming it, giving people hope to go into marriage without domestic violence."

All of the proceeds from the ticket sales and the art sales will go to the House of Ruth Maryland. Each year, they help 9,000 women who have experienced intimate partner violence.

"They're often scared to leave, scared what their next step might be, scared of judgment of their community or family," said Faith Savill, community relations manager for the House of Ruth. 

"We try to meet people where they are and help them with whatever is safest for them and whatever works best in their situation," she said.

One of the key components to healing from abuse is support. Winter hopes the "Redressed" event will help that support network for survivors of domestic abuse grow bigger and stronger.

"There's been such an incredible sense of community throughout this process," she said. "Its been incredibly empowering, and I can't wait for people to see what the artists have created."

Click here to learn more about the Redressed event and how to purchase tickets.