Transforming, an installation by artist Gayle Fitzpatrick, will be on display beginning May 26 through June 24 in the storefront window of Engine, at 128 Main Street. Transforming is part of the exhibition Exploring the Seams, which features four Maine College of Art Textile and Fashion Design students’ thesis work. The exhibition will open from 5-8pm on May 26, during the Biddeford+Saco ArtWalk, and will be followed by the PussyCATWalk, a runway show at 8pm featuring original work by artist Martha Miller.

Transforming ties together Biddeford’s textile and garment industry and broader community concerns about domestic violence. Displaying the work in the storefront of a former clothing store on Main Street is intentional. The installation will consist of a dress composed of handmade Japanese paper that transforms from a worn white to a rich turquoise with gold leaf embellishments. A paper “carpet” composed of handmade paper hearts–of recycled pulp (created from the artist’s recycled divorce transcripts and Orders of Protection from Abuse)–will lead toward the dress. A library of hand-bound books in which people have written, drawn, and collaged as a means of expressing their feeling and thoughts and feelings of their own journey will be on display. The background will be a continuous wall of 8 x 10 inch sheets of handmade paper with patterns of one in four, to visually articulate the 1-in-4 statistics of domestic abuse).

Fitzpatrick’s installation directly addresses the transformation from abuse and domestic violence to a thriving life. It is the artist’s goal to create awareness and spur discussion, and to offer hope and healing through art and community.

The installation will be be accompanied by community participation during the exhibit and at planned art workshops.

The exhibit will be interactive, allowing for community participation. Attendees will receive perforated tickets on entering Engine’s space. One part of the ticket will state “I was abused” and may be placed in a box. The other half will state, “I survived and now I will thrive” and may be kept by the attendee as a keepsake. In addition, 3 x 5 sheets of handmade paper will be available for viewers to write, draw, or acknowledge if they, or a loved one, had been or is being abused. Completed acknowledgements will be deposited safely in a container.

Transforming was made possible with funding from the Maine Arts Commission.

GAYLE FITZPATRICK is a graduate of Massachusetts College of Art ‘74 and has studied papermaking extensively at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, Penland School of Crafts and in Japan. Fitzpatrick resides in York, Maine. Her work can be seen at

Included image:  Detail of Transforming, photo credit Erin Thomas