Beth sewed a dress made of canvas and wore it to the Palo Alto California Ave Farmers Market. She held in her left hand a mason jar of paintbrushes and in her right hand a wooden palette lathered with blue, yellow and bronze acrylic paint. In her first ten minutes at the market, she approached market-goers in order to get them to paint on her. She walked up to them with her left hand outstretched and said, “My dress is bare: can you help me paint it?” Most were happy to help, and after laying their marking on her dress they would often linger longer to see the process continue and ask about her intentions.
The exercise of relinquishing control of her dress was telling. It made tangible her everyday experiences of being others' canvas'. We are constantly being marked by people surrounding us in life: they dictate who we are. Giving up control of the dress was difficult for Beth at first, and throughout the painting process she felt helpless and vulnerable. When people saw how much she trusted them, though, they were willing to give her their best marks and what resulted is a beautiful collaboration that she does not think she would have been capable of creating on her own.