I've recently developed an obsession with creating anatomical art out of paper. The first one I attempted was the Frog Autopsy and no sooner had I begun it, I knew that this would be next. Now I have created this Quilled Reproductive Self Portrait. I say it's a self-portrait because I was envisioning my own organs as I made it. But really it represents all women.
Some of you may not know this about me, but "most" of my artwork has personal significance to me. I rarely create anything that doesn't relate to something that is important to me or currently happening.
Frog Autopsy was a result of my fascination with autopsies. Yup... weird, I know. As a child, I dissected animals without prompting. Meaning, I actually chose to do it rather than wait for a biology class. This was likely a result of growing up on a farm and always wanting to know how things worked.
So I've recently turned 42 and have also become obsessed with my waning fertility and approaching menopause. I feel as though my lady parts are the devil and all they do is conspire against me. I've been having quite a battle with the bitches for the past six months or so. Something tells me I have no chance of winning, but I will not go down without a fight, or at least a bottle of Advil and a pint of ice cream.
I decided to do a "lady part" piece as sort of a tribute to my own body and to others as well. With the women's march a month or so ago and so much in the news about women's reproductive rights, it just seemed like I had to make a statement piece. And, as with most of my artwork, there is always a hint of my lurking somewhere in side it. In this case it's the ovaries. I always joke to my husband that I have one egg left. But each month my period proves me wrong. Oh well. It's become something I cling to. Is this the last one? Is this the last month? Is menopause finally here?
So in tribute to my imagined "solitary egg" - my last gasp of fertility, I created this piece with two ovaries and a single "egg."
I was going to stop there but figured that while I was knuckle deep in pink paper, I'd make quilling history by forming a simplistic vulva as well. I'm sure it's been done before (and I plan to do it again in greater detail!), but give me my delusions of grandeur, okay? 🙂
I have to tell you the story behind this final part. My husband went to take a shower and while he was gone I had thrown together two labia majora. I was going to leave it at that and thought, nope - I can't sleep unless this vulva has a clitoris and labia minora. So he walked out of the bathroom and I held up a pink-headed pin and said, "Honey I need you to make me a clitoris." He didn't even crack a smile, you know, because he knew I was serious. And he took the pin, clipped off the head and handed it back. I captured the pin pearl in the upper cleft of the labia and then crimped out a set of tiny, ruffly, labia minora. Then I felt like it was complete.
I was going to add in a fibroid tumor but it was so pretty and pink and healthy looking that I didn't want to ruin it with such an ugly thing.
Hope you enjoyed my quilled reproductive self-portrait. I will have more anatomical artwork coming along over the next few months. This piece has gone to live at the Midcoast Women's Center in Brunswick, Maine.