The story begins with my grandmother’s escape from China to Canada. Before she left China, my grandmother had a wooden chest filled with Chinese silk dresses that had been passed down throughout the generations.
As she could not bring the chest with her on the run, she buried them in the ground under a tree.
Once everything had calmed down, she returned and dug up the chest. All of the dresses were still there undamaged. She brought them back to Canada and instead of passing the chest of dresses down to her eldest daughter, she decided she would give one dress to every female in my family so that we may share in the history of her struggle.
My grandmother set up a brunch where all of my aunts, cousins, and my mother gathered to choose their dresses and enjoy hearing stories about the original owner of each dress. Being the night owl that I am, I got there rather late and for the most part all of the dresses had been handed out. I wasn’t upset that I had missed out on most of the dresses, and I really did have slim pickings with the leftovers.
But that didn’t matter because at the bottom of the chest, was, to me, the most beautiful dress of them all. A tiny, short sleeved, high collared, black silk dress with white and pink hand painted cherry blossoms down the length of it was waiting for me. The zipper was busted and back in those days Asian ladies didn’t have boobs, were not 5’5″ and didn’t have the ass that I do. It took my grandmother, my aunt, and my mother to try and get it on me – and it took quite a bit more to get it off of me. Nevertheless, it was love at first sight. It came with a shawl with the same black silk and white and pink cherry blossoms and I wouldn’t have traded it for the world. It made me smile, and really when it comes down to it that’s the best part of any art piece.
I loved this dress so much, I hung it in the middle of my wall and looked at it every day and it always made me happy. A little while after that I started to draw it, and a little while later, I decided this will be a masterpiece that I will cherish for the rest of my life. And what better way to celebrate the beauty of my heritage and my grandmother then to dedicate, permanently, half of my body to the dress that was waiting for me at the bottom of the chest?
I have a great deal of respect for Chris Smith who currently works at Sinful Infliction. He did an amazing job preserving the dress under my skin. I will be seeing him again in a few months because like all plants, my tattoo has to grow.
I had my ribs done first, then a few years later my leg piece was added. So far it’s taken about 5 years to get to this point. If I do a section every year, I’ve got another 10 years to go until my entire right side is complete!
P.S. the light pink is UV ink so I glow under blacklight, bitchez!