Curtain of Silence - Artist Statement
This installation was originally displayed in 2001 at the New Brunswick College of Craft and Design Gallery
My personal history of physical and emotional pain associated with multiple miscarriages, excessive bleeding, and menstrual abnormalities led me to the continuing process of documenting aspects of my history. Although this work has personal content, it expresses women's health issues, such as childbirth, menstruation, fertility, miscarriages, and hormonal changes. Many women share my story. This is a story I had to tell.
Other women share my frustration with the medical profession. Many times I have asked, why are there so many men in the field of obstetrics and gynecology? My own obstetrician told me that his branch of medicine was seen as "yucky" because his hands were in women's vaginas all day. “Perhaps that is why it is the most highly paid," he added. His statements give credence to Nelly Oudshoorn's argument that:
The majority of gynecologists in reproductive technology are men, a fact which probably is reflective of its high-tech status within medicine. Gynecology is part of an institutional process of othering, in which women are the objects and men the subjects of investigations of the female body. From a paper given at "The Future of Nature" block conference, London, Tate Gallery (1994).
When choosing the material to explore my experiences, I instinctively chose needlework because of its traditional association with "women's work" and its historical role in forming "feminine" ideology. Needlework also conjures up my surgical experiences. I deliberately referenced cutting, stitching, and sewing. I used materials like gauze for its association with bandaging and surgical treatments. The organza was selected for its softness and associations with women's clothing.
This work is informed by the feminist argument that the personal is political. My personal experiences of my own body are imbricated in the cultural fabric of society and are not unique. Other women should be able to relate on some level to this work which explores the historical and ideological construction of women's bodies.
- Jane Gee