Exit Gallery


Sonya Naumann

It is my goal to photograph 1,000 individuals wearing my $1,000 wedding dress within the context of their own or chosen environment. I plan to travel with the dress, video camera, and still camera to build on this idea showcasing it at www.thousanddollardress.com. At the project's end, I aspire to have 1,000 portraits and a video documentary including interviews from individuals of all ages, backgrounds and diverse marital situations speaking to the concept of marriage and its politic. I seek to facilitate an open dialogue regarding the institution of marriage and explore the diverse views attached to its conception amidst the current culture war regarding its exclusive definition.

Thus far, some of the photographs deliberately satisfy the tropes that accompany the dress while others refute it. Ultimately, the outcome is dependent upon the singularities of the participants. Some of the
photographs are fantasy based while others a clear document. It is my hope
that the ensemble will illustrate the multiplicity of responses attached to wearing the dress while both confirming and challenging the
stereotypes that accompany its loaded existence.

The crucial descriptive of the participants is that they are volunteers. Therefore, the pool is not decided by site specificity or demographics, but rather sheer will to contribute. Thus far, there has been an interesting range of approach and affectedness. The examination of the very nature of my dress and its varied implications unveiled through other individuals' stories has been fascinating. I rather enjoy seeing other women wear it. In an effort to deconstruct my approach to the project, I steady myself with the assertion that I am investigating a collective experience. I don’t consider myself the vehicle per se, rather the instigator. The dress, on the other hand, vehemently serves as the vehicle that allows me admission.


Sonya Naumann received her MFA at the University of Iowa in 2009. Portions of her work on "Thousand Dollar Dress" project were published in The American Scholar Journal, Fraction Magazine, and shown in several group exhibitions. She currently teaches as adjunct faculty at The University of Iowa and Kirkwood College.

For more about the project go to: www.thousanddollardress.com

About the Exit Gallery

Current Exhibition

Previous Exhibitions