When I started talking with the gallery manager at Lowe Mill last fall about my show, I originally thought I’d do more canvas works in my Modern Icon series since that’s what I had submitted in my proposal originally. But then I asked a question on Facebook on January 5th. I was chasing a tangent that my husband and I had been discussing and wanted to see if anyone I knew would weigh in. Here’s what I posted:
Woman friends, I’m doing a bit if crowd sourcing this morning. I’m looking for comments and phases that you have overheard or that have been said to you that were discriminatory or micro-aggressions because you are a female.
For example, someone once said to me as I actively had my hands inside a computer installing a new hard drive, “YOU work in computers?!?”
I’m working on a project and am looking for similarities to my experiences and interesting phrases so be aware I may use your words in my project but you won’t be identified.
I thought maybe one or two friends might tell me a “this happened to me once” story. Instead it generated a solid two days worth of real time conversation with my circle of women friends sharing their experiences of sexism and misogyny. Notice I didn’t use those words at all in the original question. But the stories I got back were unquestionably sexism and misogyny. Story after story of men or society as a whole speaking to women in ways that demean, objectify, or reduce them even to the point of violence. It was a lot to digest. I was both amazed at the strength of the women who shared their stories and horrified that it is so prevalent. More than once I was reduced to sobbing as I read my friend’s experiences that they so courageously shared.
After a couple of days just feeling raw and sad and stuck, I realized as I read through the posts again that indeed there were phrases that kept coming up over and over again. I has a sense of something universal in my original question but had no idea how true it would actually turn out to be. I started a list. I wrote my list on individual cards. I started arranging them. A kind of conversation emerged as I arranged and rearranged my cards. Here are the cards in their final arrangement. Eighteen panels to correspond to our society’s age designation for maturity.
After I worked this part out I hit another wall. I knew what I wanted them to say but no idea how they would look. I started working on some test pieces.
These are 18×24″ and way too big to realistically have 18 of those. So I shaved it down to half that size: 12×18″. I currently have 8 almost finished or finished. I started out working in order but after I got them all up on my wall so I could see them all together I started jumping around working on them as they spoke to me.
Here are a few that are either finished or really close:
I’m still thinking about and hashing out a few details. I don’t know for sure yet how they will be framed. I don’t know for sure yet if I’ll show the whole 18 or if I’ll curate it. Right now I’m just trying to focus on making the pieces and seeing where it goes.