"Under" - Vessel with Underwear
Porcelain, Underglaze, Gold Luster, 9.5"H x 6"W x 5"D
Each Mallory Wetherell piece is individually hand-painted by the artist.
Throughout history, women have served as artistic muses, their bodies put on display for purposes of both glorification and sexualization. From the fertility statuette Venus of Willendorf dating back to 28,000 B.C., to Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus (1485 A.D.) to Irving Penn’s Nude No. 1 (1947 A. D.) to the covers of the numerous magazines lining the check-out counters today, the female body has been a common object on display. Inadvertently, all of society has been taught to openly look at it, to freely analyze it. And as a result, the idea that we – as women – can look at ourselves, clearly and uninhibited, is unrealistic. There is undoubtedly subconscious imprinting from both history and the surrounding world that filters in to our notion of self.
This new series of work is a reflection of my own self, exploring the complexity I have with my idea of femininity. Subjectively, the female body is amazing. It grows and gives life; and yet, there can be this nonsensical idea that the body should not show evidence of this afterwards. That somehow, females are meant to defy nature, to stop aging, to preserve themselves. I am guilty of these thoughts, in spite of recognizing the irrationality of them.
To convey the conflicting emotions of empowerment and self-deprecation, I have rendered the drawings from a severely personal vantage point. They are formatted in a circular fashion, creating a sense of tunnel vision, alluding to both the physical and psychological peripheries that ultimately skew our perception of self. The ceramic pieces in this exhibition are snapshots from my life, displaying carefully rendered paintings of things stereotypically female. However, these things that may help classify me as female are not what defines me as a woman. I am also a mother, a wife, a sister, a daughter, a professor, an artist, a lover of nature, a protector of animals, and an advocate. As women, it is imperative that we put our energy into causes that progress our future, and that of our children, rather than insulting ourselves and allowing superficial society to determine our worth.