Alterations Art Project

In response to the national epidemic of body hatred and eating problems, The Body Positive commissioned artist Birgit Gehrt to create Alterations, an art installation that explores the Alerations Art Projectrelationship between clothing and fashion and body image issues, asking the viewer to "alter" her perspective. Working in collaboration with constituents of The Body Positive, Birgit Gehrt has created a series of unconventional garment sculptures and accessories. Some are wearable and others sculptural. All comment on clothing's role as a second skin or shield, and the ways in which fashion expresses social messages.

According to Gehrt, "People, especially youth, are highly susceptible to and easily tormented by the whims of fashion, especially in relation to body size and cultural definitions of beauty. These garments act as visual manifestations of the constituents' stories about their bodies in a larger body--society." While the ambition for this intense level of collaboration marks a new direction for the artist, the medium is familiar: "In order to fathom my surroundings, I turn to hands-on techniques such as sewing, crocheting, and embroidering, as well as drawing, taking snapshots, making postcards, books, or altering objects."


Alerations Art ProjectRaised in Germany and moving to the United States in 1990, Birgit Gehrt earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the California College of the Arts in 1995 and a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of California, Irvine in 1999. Her work has explored home and domesticity in relation to definitions of place and communities. In the project Alterations she draws from her former interest in domestic techniques such as sewing, altering and embroidering to create garment sculptures.


The project consists of 15 clothing and accessories items transformed into sculptural garments. Each piece tells a different story about identity, body image, and self-esteem in contemporary culture. For some of the pieces, Gehrt used poetry written by project participants, and created the garment to express the words. Several of Birgit's sculptural garments are pictured for you to enjoy ("Take the Bag Ladies Out" is at top of the page), with some including the poetry that inspired the piece.

Intense Like Me

Alerations Art ProjectBitter wonderful chocolate A sumptuous thin square melting slowly in my mouth after a delicious meal or with afternoon tea Senses awakened Brain delighted Not too much sweetness to overpower the pure dense flavor Intense like me Of the highest quality or not really worth it The way I choose to experience my ride on this planet Savoring the greatest flavors life has to offer Conscious all the way through to the end.

©2005 Poetry by Connie Sobczak

Candy Un-coated

Alerations Art ProjectIce cream Chocolate cake Brownie Uncomfortably stuffs the space where My self-love should be All 3 together forming a Concoction of self-hate A sticky brown mess Corroding every inch of my body My inner sanctuary,I've converted into a filthy kitchen Racing to wipe up the grime, I fear someone will look upon with repulsion Unable to see past my Obvious imperfections Desperately, I seek the illusion of purity, While the layers below Stained with self-loathing and pain Remain untended to.

©2005 Poetry by Cassandra Hazen


Alerations Art ProjectAlterations is available to travel to your high school or college campus or community event to provide a focal point from which workshops and discussion groups can be organized. It will be especially useful in stimulating discussions during eating disorders awareness week in February of each year, though it is a wonderful addition to your campus at any time during the year, as body image and eating problems are debilitating problems for people year round! If you would like to bring Alterations to your campus, The Body Positive staff will be happy to work with you to determine an appropriate program that will fit the needs of your students. Email Connie Sobczak for more details.

To view The Body Positive's other creative projects, check out: