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Elizabeth A.Sackler Center for Feminist Art

Deb Wiles

Toronto,
Canada

Deb Wiles is a prolific professional multidisciplinary artist. Her art practice runs the gamut from abstract expressionism to fine art portraiture. She works in various mediums: pen & ink, oils, bronze, and the written word. This artist is no one trick pony; she is an artist’s artist, an outsider and renaissance woman with a distinctly feminist twist. Ms. Wiles is a graduate of Ontario College of Art and Design, art instructor and Director of Trident International Artists’ Retreat. She currently lives works in Toronto where she continues to elate and discomfit audiences with her vulvae and brush.

Feminist Artist Statement

“52 Ladies at Tea” came from an emotional place. That is, I didn’t begin with the intention to produce it, but was led by the piece itself. Production of the work began a discourse with women I knew and new ones I met about how they felt about their vulva and their sexuality. Response to the work, that of the models and the audience becomes part of the work.

It has long discomforted me that society shames (us) women when we make choices for ourselves regarding our bodies and our sexuality. Our bodies belong to us. It is our right to choose for ourselves. Choose when we want to have sex and with whom, if and when we want to marry, and if, when and with whom we want to bear children. Indeed these decisions belong to individual women. They do not belong to our fathers or our husbands or our lovers. We choose. For women there is a great deal of power in sexual autonomy.

Shame has long been used as a tool to control women’s sexual expression (and our behavior in general). This project is an investigation into the shame we women internalize about our bodies and our sexualities in order to survive in patriarchy. Some people may well feel that in North America, after so many decades of feminism that we are well beyond feeling this sort of shame, but I beg to differ with those people and encourage them to look at things from a more global perspective rather than an ethnocentric one. Currently we live in a global cultural climate wherein some countries, women are undergoing involuntary female infibulation while others are ‘voluntarily’ paying to have surgery on their vulvae so that their genitals will look ‘prettier’, a standard that has been set by heavens knows what, but certainly the criterion has nothing to do with reality or love.

<p>Georgie</p>

Georgie

“Georgie” is one of the “52 Ladies at Tea”, a series of life cast bronze sculptures made from the vulvae of 52 individual women. The models handmade cushions to embody the bronze cast of their vulvae. They also named them; most of the models chose to use pseudonymous to maintain anonymity in order to avoid social censure for participating in the project.

Georgie

“Georgie” is one of the “52 Ladies at Tea”, a series of life cast bronze sculptures made from the vulvae of 52 individual women. The models handmade cushions to embody the bronze cast of their vulvae. They also named them; most of the models chose to use pseudonymous to maintain anonymity in order to avoid social censure for participating in the project.

Light of the World

“Light of the World” is one of the “52 Ladies at Tea”, a series of life cast bronze sculptures made from the vulvae of 52 individual women. The models handmade cushions to embody the bronze cast of their vulvae. They also named them; most of the models chose to use pseudonymous to maintain anonymity in order to avoid social censure for participating in the project.

Open heart

“Open Heart” is one of the “52 Ladies at Tea”, a series of life cast bronze sculptures made from the vulvae of 52 individual women. The models handmade cushions to embody the bronze cast of their vulvae. They also named them; most of the models chose to use pseudonymous to maintain anonymity in order to avoid social censure for participating in the project.

Warhol

“Light of the World” is one of the “52 Ladies at Tea”, a series of life cast bronze sculptures made from the vulvae of 52 individual women. The models handmade cushions to embody the bronze cast of their vulvae. They also named them; most of the models chose to use pseudonymous to maintain anonymity in order to avoid social censure for participating in the project.

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