BFA Thesis: Strength Despite Oppression
This work investigates women’s rights movements through the lens of historical fashion and jewelry. Women have continued to face the subjugation of their right to bodily autonomy, challenges in the workforce, and equal rights. I find this struggle to be the premise of my work, creating wearable objects that juxtapose both heavy and delicate materials, alluding to the oppression felt by women and their ability to overcome. These works are created in metal and ceramics, each approaching oppression and fragility in different ways.
Women have constant pressure put on them to meet the expectations of society. Perfect posture, beauty, being able to care for a household and children are all expectations faced on a regular basis. As children in the early twentieth century, women were forced to be able to walk while balancing books upon their heads, training them to walk with the grace and poise expected of them.
Like the expectations for women’s skin, porcelain is prized for its purity, clarity, and pristine whiteness. My work utilizes porcelain for this reference, as well as its weight and fragility. It causes the wearer to feel the weight of oppression as well as the standards for posture enforced on women. Dip cast crocheted potholders create permanent replicas of domesticity. They adorn the hats in the form of flowers and veils, masking their true usage, making the viewer analyze what it is they reference.
In contrast to the pristine clarity of the work in ceramics, metal gives a different view. Steel puts forth an industrial interpretation, drawing on the influences of women in the factories in the better part of the twentieth century. Pearls are prized for their white color, the smoothness and clarity, mimicking the reference of porcelain in the other works. Nestled among dip cast porcelain and wax dipped potholders, the enameled crocus flowers allude to femininity, but are also strong and heavy. Crocus flowers are yellow, purple, and white, the colors of the women’s Suffrage movement of the early twentieth century. They are resilient flowers, known for blooming even when there is snow on the ground.
Through juxtaposing materials I speak of oppression through materiality and format. Delicate and heavy, my work both ceramic and metal shares many similar qualities and contrast which is both physically beautiful and weighted with meaning.