Alexandra Lopez-Duarte

Widowhood is an invisible state in today’s society. “Widow” is an interactive textile sculpture that exposes the wounds, pain, and emotions that embody my experience as a widow. With this installation, I aim to inspire others in the hopes that they become aware of all the devastating losses that come after the tremendous passing of a spouse.



Historically, we widowed women have been portrayed wearing long black dresses, a distinctive image that summons the iconographic fashion from the Victorian era in which mourning rites were strict and remarkably complex, following the example of Queen Victoria after the death of her husband, Prince Albert. Victorian widows endured this burden for four years. This fashion comprised heavy black clothes with thick veils of crepe, and hats equally black and dense that lacked any kind of decoration. This mourning clothing, known as “widow’s weeds “, distinguished the grieving widows from the rest of society. It was a visible indication of the pain for the death of their spouses, with black signifying the absence of light, represented the spiritual seclusion of the mourning woman.
This textile sculpture references the “widow’s weeds” and the social implications they represent. In a close examination of this costume, the structure underneath those dresses or “cage skirts” is the tangible metaphor I used to recreate and inhabit my own twisted cage skirt. It is a meditative space where I invite the public to take part in and to reflect on the journey and the humiliation I experienced as a young widow. This installation represents my fight against the stigma that is deeply rooted in widow’s fashion and the other social roles that women were expected to follow when they lost their husbands.