This work consists of a structured black corset with an embroidered anatomical heart, with beaded embroidered vessels reaching out from it and wrapping around the bodice in red and blue. My partner, though in relatively good health herself, spoke at length about her family’s experiences with heart disease. She lost her husband to heart failure and was now coping with her son’s decreasing heart function. The heart has many cultural meanings worldwide; in this project, it has both a literal meaning and a figurative one. My partner is a pillar of her family; before COVID, all of her family assembled for her birthday in February, and she lives close to her daughter in Durham. She is committed to social activism and service, taking an active role in the improvement of housing for Durham’s most needy. She has a multitude of hobbies, including reading, knitting, and embroidery. I wanted the veins and vessels to represent her interconnectedness with her community, with my partner herself as a beating heart at the center of it all.

About the Artist: Julia Denniss

Art has been an integral part of my identity since I was young. I have tried out many forms of media, including drawing, painting, music, and jewelry-making, but when my mother began teaching me to sew as a teenager, a world of opportunities unfolded for me. I have always been inspired by couture fashion and the ways clothing can communicate deeper meanings to the viewer. Sewing as a three-dimensional artform constantly challenges me to learn new techniques to add to my repertoire. I was drawn to SCOPES because I feel that art and science are intrinsically connected, not diametrically opposed. I was excited by the opportunity to represent my partner through a piece of clothing that tells a story. Art provides an incredible means of relaying a patient’s experiences in a way that is immediately recognizable and understandable to the viewer. It has been a privilege to get to know my community partner through this project, and I am so grateful for the chance to represent her amazing life through my art.