2016. Free-hand sculpted glass bust, hands and arms, fabric, epoxy resin, enamel. 24in H x 20in W x 20in D (60cm x 51cm x 51cm). Photo Credit: Evert Van Laere. Available at Habatat Galleries, Royal Oak MI.
OUR Lady is not inspired by a specific event but by the double standard that exists in society. After the mass sexual assault in Cologne, the extreme right immediately became concerned with the bodies and rights of women. It was clear - OUR women had to be protected from those ‘immigrants’. In order to protect the bodies of women, a mostly male congress votes to defund Planned Parenthood. Somehow, being raped is the will of god and not having planned ahead for this moment is simply irresponsible. Young women are told not to dress a certain way because they may distract the boys or men in their general vicinity. This is not the problem of the women, but the problem of the society perpetuating these beliefs.
The sculpture loosely references the Veiled Vestal Virgin by Rafael Monti and the Veiled Virgin by Giovanni Strazza. To be honest, I did not know either of those artists when I began the piece, but I was thinking about the paradigm of veiled female sculptures throughout (art) history. As I searched through images, these were the two that jumped out at me. There was something that struck about the comparison between the two. The artists were contemporaries working on nearly the same ideas; one was referring to historical Rome and the other two Catholicism. Yet, in both cases, the ‘virgins’ are stripped of their humanity- the vestal virgins ‘being freed’ of the social obligations to marry and have children and the Virgin Mary who is completely stripped of her natural sexuality, necessary in order to give birth.
In OUR Lady, the figure is clad in blue and white, traditional colors of the Virgin Mary. Draped over the kneeling woman is a translucent white veil, a symbol of virginity and purity, yet at the same time a garment that is seen as an object of oppression of women in several cultures. Her breasts are visible, but they are slightly covered by the sheer veil. She is slightly bowing forward with her right hand extended, as if to except the offering of those standing superior to her. Her left hand is shamefully hiding a drop of blood on her fingertips behind her back. She is meant to show the attributes of a natural woman, yet ashamed and in fear of the judgment she will face.