Women’s difficult stories honored

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I work with words in my art – memories, stories, and history. So when the Northern California Women’s Caucus for Art Exhibition curator for the “Choice Exhibition” asked me if I wanted to work on displaying the letters, I said, “Yes!”

These were not just any letters. They were written by women describing their abortion experiences – charged, powerful, emotional, factual, empowered, sad, grateful stories. Women from twenty to eighty-something and from all over the country submitted their writing to the exhibition website.

My goal was to honor these women and their stories visually and to invite gallery visitors to read them.  The colors came to mind immediately. I selected blue for its symbolism to water, emotions, the throat and communications. Violet and purple was picked for its connection to the seventh chakra, about peace and wisdom.

Each letter was read, formatted on the computer for fonts, margins, and type size. Some blue and purple color was added to each page, along with matte medium to strengthen the paper front and back. Then each page was punched top and bottom. Eyelets were added to reinforce their hanging connection using a papaya colored string. Longer letter pages were tied with gray string.

The metal stainless steel ring that supported the letter strands was purchased at Alan Steel. It had to be hack sawed and attached to create the circle.

I felt connected to each woman’s story. When I hung the test run in the outer room of my studio, a breeze came through and danced with the stories. The letters felt alive and released in the wind. A one point I stood in the middle of the hanging pages and the strength and emotions of the stories was very intense.

I deemed the installation a success as I watched women and men interacting with it and reading the stories.

At the last moment I decided to include a stool and a basket of blank paper with an invitation to viewers to write their own stories. I was surprised to hear that on the night of the opening reception, a brave young woman sat in the circle and wrote her story.

A big thank you to NCWCA members Judy Johnson-Williams and Susana van Bezooijen for working the installation too.

This installation is part of the Northern California Women’s Caucus for Art Choice Exhibition curated by Kelly Hammargren. The show is about women’s reproductive rights and is at Arc Gallery in San Francisco. For more details on the exhibition click here.

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Most women will know what these are

choice tools

If you’re a woman and have ever gone in for a gynecological exam you will recognize this medical tool called a speculum. I’ve had these devices for a few years, waiting for the creative inspiration to hit me so I could include them in an art piece. Every time I took them out and showed them to my women friends, every one of them squealed and asked me to put them away. Having a cold stainless steel speculum inserted into one’s vagina is not the most pleasant activity.

Yet we women in first world countries are fortunate to have access to gynecological care. In many 3rd world countries pap smears (collecting cells for cancer testing) do not happen because there are not enough qualified technicians to do them. In the poorest countries, many women have horrible child-birth injuries called  fistulas, often due to being young mothers. Most likely these women do not have  the choice to have birth control either.

The wrapping of the speculum in silk is my way of honoring these medical tools and our ability to get reproductive care.

I am entering this assemblage into the Northern California Women’s Caucus for Art upcoming exhibition http://www.4choice2013.com/artist-call.html

Make an Environmental Postcard

I just joined the Northern California Women’s Caucus for Art and they are promoting a postcard show called “Sustaining our Environment”. I love some of the postcards already submitted that they are showing on the blog, WCA ArtWaves international. Check out instructions below to send in your postcard too which will benefit the UN.

jjw.jpg

This was done by friend Judy Johnson-Williams. A 3-D shaker box card, it is made from found/recycled foam core, tape, plexi, flowers, BART ticket and a butterfly.

nhprimary.jpg

A timely woven card from Donna Catanzaro of Windham, NH. She wrote,
“Made from just 3 of the hundreds of NH Primary Campaign junk mail pieces I received…and never read.”

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By another coastsider I have not met yet – Alexis K. Manheim of Moss Beach, CA. It is made of used coffee filters, old tea bags and discarded tea bag strings.

Here are the details to enter. Sounds like fun. Do it!

POSTCARD CALL FOR ENTRY: SUSTAINING OUR ENVIRONMENT

Deadline Extended!!! February 15 2008
Theme: Sustaining Our Environment Postcards

Submit 4”x6” or Size 6 postcards made from recycled materials on the theme of “Sustaining Our Environment.” On the back of the postcard, provide your name, location (town, state and/or country) and materials used to make the card. Submissions will be exhibited during the February, 2008 WCA and College Art Association (CAA) annual conferences at Ft. Worth-Dallas, Texas. At the exhibition, works will be auctioned to benefit the United Nations. All entries will be documented on this blogsite.

No jury, no fee, no return. Postal delivery only.Mail postcards to P. Otani, Curator, Sustaining Our Environment, 263 Laidley Street, San Francisco, CA 94131 USA