Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art: Feminist Art Base: Laura Splan



Laura Splan. Trousseau, 2008–2009.


The “Trousseau” series uses a transparent plastic-like material that results from a facial peel-off mask. This bizarre beauty product picks up and retains the detailed impression of texture and hairs on one’s skin. I essentially cover my entire body with the product. Once dry, I peel it off in one large “hide” so that I have sheets of “fabric” to work with in constructing the sculptures for the series. Some of the sculptures are embellished with embroidery using abstracted anatomical, botanical, and ornamental imagery as decorative motifs. The series includes heirloom objects and garments such as a handkerchief, fan, parasol, veil, negligee, gloves, and purse.

The series developed out of an interest in heirloom objects as they relate to cultural inheritance. What are the cultural constructions of beauty and femininity that are passed down from one generation to the next via objects and images? As a girl I inherited a collection of elegant pastel colored chiffon negligees from my grandmother, aunts and mother. They were costumes that I used to dress up in to play. They functioned as vehicles to transport me into the “skin” of a feminine ideal as it was prescribed by cultural and social conventions of grace, beauty, and class. The trousseau or the literal heirloom becomes a metaphor for such constructions as they are embedded in the objects and images that surround us.


beauty, cosmetics, negligee, visceral, domesticity, body, Trousseau, facial peel, skin, craft, heirloom, hope chest, embroidery

Purse #1TrousseauWallpaper and Negligee #1Wallpaper (detail)Doilies (SARS)Blood ScarfProzac, Thorazine, Zoloft

New York, NY


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