When I came across Schiff’s Nightmare Bathroom while researching Womanhouse (1971-72) it was the use of sand that intrigued me because of the vulnerability it has with the body. It can be easily moved showing the areas of body that you weren’t meant to see but there is still this possibility that it could be moved.
The vulnerability of the person hiding their body away and the discomfort in the face of the women is something that I find I can relate to easily, almost like your not comfortable looking at your own body, wanting to hide it away so nobody can see it.
To me it conveys the message of being forced to look at ones body, the fear of what’s below the sand. It reminds me of when I use to be forced to confront my own body.
Started the hanging and arranging process today, it is a long and tedious process, but also quite satisfying seeing them all go up on the wall at long last. I am arranging them in no particular order as I don’t want them to be uniform or to be in any form of pattern, which is part of the reason why it is taking so long. The idea behind them not being uniform and becoming more free in the placement is that we as women shouldn’t have to conform to beauty standards and should be free to make our own mind up but also they are all so individual it would be difficult to make them conform to a pattern or being uniform.
“Turning the tables is not the road to equality, nor will male brothels.” Barbara Rose 1974
This quote from Barbara Rose’s Vaginal Iconology (1974) explains what I think was wrong with Judy Chicago and Miriam Schapiro’s Womanhouse and their all women’s art program.
I don’t believe singling out women is the way to create equality but also men can be feminists who want to improve the lives of women also. I don’t believe anybody should be singled out for their sex, either way.
Though a feminist, she didn’t see her work as feminist propaganda, she thought that if her work was condemned feminist it would limit the meaning of her work, that people would only see it as sensual or suggestive of the female sexuality. Though she did make room for the feminist voice.
I still see organic human forms in her work, especially the one above and also some of her close ups of flowers.
What really inspires me about her work is that they weren’t meant to be seen as vulva, they weren’t purposefully painted like that, they let you come to that conclusion on your own. You are not forced into seeing the piece from a narrow perspective.
Finally completed my last firing to 1280, the kiln did over fire again but not so much as to effect my work too much. One thing it did effect was the clear glazed pieces as they have lost some of their shine which is a little annoying as they don’t look as wet as I had hoped. The white glaze has gone slightly pearly pink again, however I do now like this effect as the vagina was once seen as a sacride part of the body, almost like a pearl.
After completing the second coat of paint on my walls for the degree show I thought I would test to see how my pieces fair against the slightly grey walls. Unfortunately the photos don’t do the colour different much good but I am really pleased with how the porcelain works with the grey walls. Even though there isn’t much of a difference between the white and grey when looking at them, once the porcelain is against the wall it stands out much more against the grey than the white, it also makes the porcelain look more yellowish like it’s suppose to once vitrified.
Within the book Feminist art theory’s sub category Sexuality and the Sexual Body a piece of writing by Barbara Rose called Vaginal Iconology caught my eye.
In second wave feminist political art the vagina within their works was propaganda for women’s rights – women are just as good as men.
Within art history the penis of the man was visible where as the vagina was always covered, this would make the man a more superior being. The vagina then became a symbol of strength for women – this is why I chose to use the vagina as a central point in my work. The work is not about the female genitalia, it is about female strength – showing the vagina rids Freud’s theory of penis envy – we are not missing out by not having a penis.
I use the image of a vagina in my work to symbolise the strength that I have as a women, but also that I should not have to conform to what a stereotypical woman should be or the beauty standards expected from a woman.