This painting was inspired by the experiences of a good friend of mine who left a very conservative Mennonite church (very, very similar to the Amish). While the culture is simple, and is often idealized, the severe restrictions and even abuse of members of these orders is often kept silent. This is one reason I painted the young girl on the right between the two women as very subdued; her eyes are downcast, and even her dress is dark; she is “learning her role” from the women surrounding her.
My understanding is that these orders judge how “spiritual” a person is, by the number of pleats in a dress, its color, and other things. The center of interest is the woman in the foreground on the right, who has many starched pleats in her dress.