VULVA ART, BUT WHY?
Trigger warning/ sexual abuse
The vulva collection, why? My answer starts out simple enough. I once made a tapestry that accidentally looked like a vulva. I decided to make one that looked more like a vulva on purpose. Proud of the resemblance and beauty, I shared my work. I called it my “vagina” tapestry. I was immediately corrected and learned that “vagina” is the term for the inner canal and what we see on the out side is the vulva. I felt dumb, Why didn’t I know that? With this motivation I began learning all the correct terms for the parts of the vulva. I experimented with tie styles and dye placement. These tapestries were looking beautiful! I held a few auctions and saw that many liked them and I loved making them. I enjoy thinking about each part as I tie it and decide what colors to lay down: clitoris, labia, vaginal opening.....
I got a lot of love sharing these creations but every once in a while someone would leave a rude remark or question. “But why?” “I don’t see what the obsession is.” “Gross.” These comments made my ears burn at first. Why the fuck would I try to explain my art to someone who doesn’t understand it? If you have to ask, you wouldn’t get it, right? Eventually I was asked ‘Why” so many times that I began to feel a bit of shame. I felt the need to ask myself, why did I enjoy making these vulva tapestries? More importantly, why was I suddenly feeling the need to explain myself?
When I thought about my “why” I couldn’t help but consider my own vulva’s experience in the world. From an early age I can remember being sexually abused, harassed and ashamed because of my vulva. I learned that I was being sexually abused by a caretaker at 6 years old during a school assembly discussing “good touch/ bad touch.”. It was the first time I felt shame thinking about my vulva.
As an adult I realized there was not much talk about my vulva and vagina or what the difference was. I actually had no idea how to use it. I was afraid if it. I never even looked at my vulva in a mirror until my first child was born. At the beginning of my sexually active adult life, my vulva was an afterthought during sex. Most women I know have been humiliated by having a menstrual accident at least once in their lives.
These felt like good enough reasons to try and open up a dialogue about something that a friend so simply put “is expected to be felt, not seen.” Being flooded with a life time of vulva trauma overwhelmed me. At the same time it was healing to take a real look at my own experiences. So again, I had to ask myself, was this my answer? Is this why I make vulva art?
I would love to wrap my “why” up in a little box and label it. Empowered. Feminist. Sexual abuse survivor. Sexual educator. Healing vibes. Normalize vulvas. Bringing beauty to the taboo subject of the vulva has been my pleasure. I love the conversations I have had on the subject. I feel more in awe of my vulva than ever before. But In the end, I just can’t lie. The truth is, I need the money! I have a family that I need to contribute to and making dye art is my job. As an artist it’s the hardest fucking thing to get paid a livable wage for your art. I’m an ARTIST and I don't need any other reason than that to make art and fucking sell it. Period.