This installation considers the wedding dress as an oddly sentimental object in our mostly unsentimental cultural moment. It is loaded with symbolism, but as an heirloom, it’s curiously unspecific–a transmission from the past that is literally empty, is usually unwearable, and takes up a lot of space, psychic and physical. Vintage wedding gowns, transformed into ethereal floating envelopes and embedded in concrete, give form to these conflicting aspects of the wedding gown specifically, and the heirloom in general.

Material Remains reimagines the Glass House of The Invisible Dog as a modern day globe de mariée, a decorative object which mingled souvenir and talisman to enshrine the memories, hopes, and dreams for a married couple. Preserved under glass, these keepsakes were treasured family artifacts passed on through generations. Using her mother’s wedding dress as well as other 20th-century gowns as raw material for sculpture, Spencer Merolla interrogates this commonplace contemporary heirloom. The wedding gown is both an artifact of an (inaccessible) past, and an object which, through its transference, acts as a conduit for hopes, expectations, and conformity to tradition.  Material Remains touches on the ideas of preservation, intention, loss, and remembrance, and explores the heirloom’s capacity to act as both gift and burden.