Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art: Feminist Art Base: Helen Redman

Nicole's Puberty


Helen Redman. Nicole's Puberty, 1976.

I composed this iconic portrait of Nicole with objects and mementos that were part of her world from quilts and fabrics to book characters and stuffed animals. As I watched Nicole enter puberty, there was both apprehension and levity in my perception of her and this female passage. The Rabbit from Alice and Wonderland looks at his watch -- time is passing. Two large stuffed animals, a snake and a frog address Nicole's unfolding sexuality. The serpent suggests Eve's temptation; the cabbage rose, coming out of her head is a parody on the apple. Spectacled and freckled, still a kid, she explores vamping and femininity in a wrapped-around silk shawl.

All of my portraits invite you to know a person as they pictorially evolve on several levels. My penchant for color and patterns (awakened in Morocco) makes the art appealing to a child, yet the character inside Nicole is more complex and moody. Her girlish stance foretells the strong woman she will become and invites you to participate in her development.


portrait, girl, cycles, adolescence, puberty, body image, femininity, patterns

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Helen Redman Pioneer of Feminist Art

San Diego, CA


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