transforming fear | innovating vision
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© 2007 - 2012">2007 - 2012 Noelle Lorraine Williams
| Jaz Graf | Virginal Apparitions I, 2007 Etchings on fabric, silk & linen thread, scented oils
JAZ GRAF | Mother of God Exhibition
NOELLE LORRAINE WILLIAMS| One significant aspect of feminist art throughout the late 20th century is reclamation. A hallmark is the manipulation or reshaping of key female figures in religion and popular culture to fit our contemporary needs.
I was struck by your piece not because it was just visually enchanting but also because underwear are such a deep source of revelation and hold such potential for shame. Often the maintenance of our underwear or what it might reveal about us suggests our success or failures as women.
JAZ GRAF| In Virginal Apparitions I, etchings of the Virgin Mary are printed on the inside crotch area of lacey, provocative panties. This does not â€œsuggest our success or failures as women.â€ There are, however, passages in the Bible (Leviticus 15) that address the issue of female discharge and menstrual blood as being unclean. The fact that these â€œstainsâ€ are images of Mary is ironic. I agree these objects have the potential for shame, and that is what compliments its impression.
NOELLE LORRAINE WILLIAMS|Can you please talk about your use of the Virgin in the work and the use of materials piece overall.
JAZ GRAF| Iconic images of Mary are traditionally portrayed as a heavily clothed figure surrounded by an emanating aura. This almond shaped aura originates from the symbol of the vesica pisci, the shape created by two intersecting circles. The vesica pisci symbolizes the link of the spiritual world with the mortal world. In Virginal Apparitions I there are two versions of Mary represented â€“ one of Mary gesturing with arms outstretched (white print â€“ suggesting vaginal discharge) and one of Mary in prayer (red print – suggesting menstrual blood). The colors red and white, also in relation to Maryâ€™s gestures, are used to convey ideas of pleasure and punishment.
Materials such as black lingerie, lace, and white cloth are personal in nature and have intuitive associations. Lace often references femininity, decoration or domesticity and in the last few decades has become the staple of intimate apparel. Black lingerie has always been associated with seduction. And among the many connotations of white fabric, it is commonly used as a sign of purity and cleanliness, worn for protection, or used as a signal of surrender. In this body of work, the pairing of these associations with concepts of popular iconography describe an alternative portrayal of Mary from the doctrinal mainstream.
Manipulating the body; the body manipulated.
NOELLE LORRAINE WILLIAMS|This exhibition manipulates the body and its most intimate environments. In what ways does your work manipulate the viewer? In what ways is your work a manipulation of sight and touch? How do you manipulate the material to rework our understanding of history and contemporary culture?
JAZ GRAF| My installation manipulates the viewer with a combination of sensory stimulus, psycho-social associations, and crude imagery.
The intention of the work is not to mock religious belief systems but to playfully examine the stylized portrayal of Mary, which is essentially a standard of the feminine.
NOELLE LORRAINE WILLIAMS|How do you create a conversation around the manipulation of women’s bodies?
JAZ GRAF| Easy.
NOELLE LORRAINE WILLIAMS|How does a “shared dialogue” and collective art process effect what you create? How does it manipulate the idea of the ‘individual” art creativity? How did the process speak to or not of the theory of a “collective unconscious”?
JAZ GRAF| It offers a wider variety of scrutiny and criticism.
Exploring the archetypal mother figure traditionally, personally and through shared experience, particularly with other women in the residency, was all part of the process.