Back in March, The New York Times announced it’s “Overlooked” project, an editorial feature that shares the accomplishments and stories of women and minorities who were left out of the paper’s highly regarded obituary pages. Since 1851, the paper has written tens of thousands of obituaries, which have been dominated by white men.

Inspired by the new features popping up weekly in the paper and online, Avalon Hester, a high school junior at The Oxbow School in Napa, California, created this incredible and thoughtful dress for her Final Project.

Avalon shared images of the dress on her Instagram page with the following explanation:

These are some pictures of my Final Project – a 12 lbs dress made of 7 full scale portraits on canvas. The portraits are both oil and acrylic, and they’re of women from the New York Times Overlooked Obituary Project. Over the 167 year printing history of the New York Times, only 15% of their obituaries have been of women. This piece used that project to talk about our culture of dismissing women, and how the vulnerability of sharing experiences can abolish it. 

I’m really proud of this project and the way that Oxbow shaped my art throughout the semester. Thank you to everyone who came to Final Show, and helped make this whole semester possible.

Sewing the canvas paintings together to create the skirt, Avalon also used several clippings from the newspaper of Me Too related articles that she used for other details seen on the dress.

These are some pictures of my Final Project – a 12 lbs dress made of 7 full scale portraits on canvas. The portraits are both oil and acrylic, and they’re of women from the New York Times Overlooked Obituary Project. Over the 167 year printing history of the New York Times, only 15% of their obituaries have been of women. This piece used that project to talk about our culture of dismissing women, and how the vulnerability of sharing experiences can abolish it. I’m really proud of this project and the way that Oxbow shaped my art throughout the semester. Thank you to everyone who came to Final Show, and helped make this whole semester possible. Photo cred: the amazing @zaelanewcomb @nytimes @nytimesfashion #nyt #newyorktimes #overlooked #art #oxbow #fashion #dress

A post shared by Avalon Hester (@avalon.hester) on

Befittingly, Avalon and her Overlooked-inspired dress were featured by The New York Times. When we connected with Avalon she was super excited by the attention, “because it allowed the message of my piece to be broadcast to so many more women than I could have reached without it.”

So what’s next? In a message from Avalon she shared with us that she’s still working out the details of her “next BIG project,” and is currently developing children’s books so she can “continue sharing a positive message” with a younger audience.

Check out more of Avalon’s work by following her on Instagram here and here; she did a marvelous portrait of Malala, that’s just stunning.


All photos by fellow student Zaela Newcomb, and republished here with permission.