Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Venus and me


I sent out my newsletter on Monday. Included was an image of a "Power doll" I made for the upcoming YWCA exhibit. The doll was in the form of the Venus de Willendorf, a standard of survey art history courses. Well I sent one to an aunt. My dad was over there visiting my aunt and she must have asked him about the artwork on my newsletter. Dad told her that he didn’t think it was my artwork because he didn’t think I was in the habit of painting fat ladies. He asked me about this at my son’s track meet, and I said that the artwork was mine and that the image was that of an ancient fertility sculpture.
By his attempt at sarcastic wit, I could tell Dad was uncomfortable with this information. He said he'd have to relay the information to my aunt. Yikes. The thought of my dad's interpretation of my artist's statement on a piece of feminist art...scary. I immediately sent an email to my aunt to tell her myself.

For those of you that are unfamiliar with my chosen icon, here's my attempt at a little Venus lesson--at least what she has meant in my life and in my art. The theory is that this Venus was a fertility statue of some type, maybe not just for human fertility, but for that of the crops and the hunt which were so important to ancient people. Some say she was created at a time that was matriarchal. For artists (particularly female ones) she symbolizes fertility of expression. Creation, etc. For ecologists, she is an important symbol as the rotund “earth mother” who has also been under assault. She is appropriate as a “power doll” figure for the YWCA exhibit. There has been correlation of man’s dominion over the earth (rape of the earth) and dominion over women. There is a whole branch of feminism, called eco-feminism which tries to rectify these injustices by working on these two issues in conjunction with each other. In my paper doll workshops at the shelter, I encourage the residents to find symbol of power for themselves when making their dolls. While not many of the women reach to sources in art history, I think it is important to have a wide variety of images from different sources with which to relate and hold up as a beacon of self-empowerment.

1 comment:

JulieAnn Henneman said...

Love this! Sorry I've been absent...how are you?