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julie sirek: a family matter

Visual artist Julie Sirek uses handmade paper and Joomchi (paper felting) in this collection of clothing sculptures meant to bring attention to domestic violence.


Dissolving Dream,  mulberry paper

As the former executive director of a domestic violence agency, I was immediately drawn to her story and how she has integrated it into her life: “At the age of 7, I witnessed my father hitting my mother. This behavior continued and escalated for the next 15 years. I now incorporate these experiences and the violent experiences of women and girls throughout the world into my work.”


Dissolving Dream, back


The dresses made me gasp – both the message she conveys and the craftsmanship of each dress. Beautiful. Powerful. Paper.


Secrets From My Closet,  mulberry paper

“Paper surrounds us on a daily basis. It is the substrate we write on, it represents memory, human progress and the dissemination of knowledge. I use it as a metaphor for concepts such as memory, relationships, attachments, culture, family and personal narratives.”

The five dresses shown below are part of a group of 30 dresses Sirek created for her collection, A Family Matter. You can view all of the dresses in the collection on her website.


A Family Matter, handmade gampi paper, thread

“Paper is as fragile as it is strong. It is as precious as it is poor. However, if cared for it can survive for centuries. In this way, it has “human” qualities and becomes a metaphor for life and death.”


A Family Matter, handmade gampi paper, thread


A Family Matter, handmade gampi paper, thread

“Paper is fragile and has implications of violence. It can be ripped, torn and crumbled. But it can also be mended, and sewn back together. The cellulous fiber can be delicate, fine, vulnerable, and transparent or it can be tough, strong, rough, wild and opaque.”


A Family Matter, handmade gampi paper, thread


 A Family Matter, handmade gampi paper, thread

Julie Sirek’s website




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