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Rachel Perry Welty
9. Are there any clothing (or related) items that you have in multiple? Why do you think you keep buying this thing?
Long before I knew about performance art but was just beginning to enjoy performing, I had a clothing experience that changed the way I thought of dressing. It was the late 60s, I was in second grade, growing up in Northfield, Minnesota. One day my mother gave me a box of expensive hand-me-downs she had just received "from the Erikson’s," a family I had never met but understood to be wealthy and sophisticated. My best friend happened to be over at my house playing that afternoon. We rifled through the box and started trying on the clothes: gathered Swiss skirts with aprons and lace-up bodice tops, elegant smocked dresses, funky plaid jumpers with black patent leather half-belts and wool turtlenecks – those are just a few I remember. And the best part was that there were TWO of every outfit in the same size! We decided that we would dress identically for school every day, and there were so many clothes we did it for two weeks. My mother went along with it. I think she thought it was amusing. I remember the attention we got from teachers as well as students, the jealous reactions of other girls, and the difficulty of explaining why we were doing it. How funny that I could enjoy feeling different by being (dressing) the same.
Rachel Perry Welty is an interdisciplinary artist who works in New York City and Gloucester, Massachusetts.