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The Drill Team

These dresses demonstrate their transition, from the functional to the fabulous, from the Industrial to sculptural. By deliberately leaving the iconography of the oil can intact, this dress is a consumer icon, it recognizably retains its original identity although it now exists in a new form.  McCullough refers to her series as, “The Drill Team”, a phrase which at a stroke conjures up a number of diametrically opposed images.  The name has overtly masculine overtones; heroic, idealized men and machinery exuding power, danger and the exploration of unknown territories in hidden depths. But it also references the Drill Team of the cheerleaders who decorate the peripheries of that great, inherently masculine institution; the American Football game with displays of colorful choreographed athleticism, noted solely for their twirling of pom-poms and blatant femininity.

Given that the style of these dresses references that of the cheerleader, by implication this references the sponsoring of televised sporting events by large business corporations, including the oil companies. The implication is that everything is destined for the mass market; everything carries a subliminal message, nothing is pure, everything is manufactured and offered for consumption. Is this a metaphor for life in modern, consumerist America? McCullough’s dresses subvert this macho symbol beautifully, by converting the oil can into a dress; she at once emasculates it and creates the most feminine of objects. The value to be found in Donna McCullough’s work is in her development of a genre that although technically less than a century old, can trace its origins through the history of art. 

Excerpt from Donna and The Drill Team – An Interview with Donna McCullough by Michael Stewart

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