root dress, 1994–1995
203.2 x 114.3 cm
Collection of the Winnipeg Art Gallery; Acquired with the support of the Canada Council for the Arts Acquisition Assistance Program/Oeuvre achetée avec l’aide du programme d’aide aux acquisitions du Conseil des Arts du Canada and with funds from The Winnipeg Art Gallery Foundation Inc.
Root Dress is part meditation on the motif of the dress and part landscape. In her artistic practice, Barb Hunt investigates cultural preconceptions and how notions of gender are constructed. In particular, she attempts to reveal and recuperate the “feminine,” which historically has been discredited as minor or irrelevant by male-dominated culture. Clothing is strongly associated with the masculine or the feminine in society. The hard, durable steel of this work and its anchored form confound associations of dresses with soft cloth and fluidity, which in turn questions assumptions based on gender. Using images from nature and forms historically connected with femininity, Hunt weaves both contradictions and correlations between material, image, and process to unearth diverse visions of identity.