Gothic Arch Sheela na gig

Terra Cotta
16" H x 9" W x 2" D


About the Piece

This piece is about using the powerful energy in our bodies to fuel our dreams, to help us to grow and become self-aware, compassionate people who can give and receive love. The yoni, in addition to being a sexual symbol, is a symbol of life and new beginnings. Giving pleasure to ourselves relates directly to the problem Jungian psychologist Paula Young notices of women she treats in therapy. When asked what they want, they are unable to give her an answer, since they are so used to tuning into the needs of others they are unable to identify their own wants, needs, and pleasures. The heads of the women are at the locus of the clitoris. These yonis have clitorises because as Nancy Spero writes "it is about giving pleasure to ourselves and not to the male gaze." (Leon Golub and Nancy Spero: War and Memory, Organized by Katy Kline and Helaine Posner MIT List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge , 1995) 

Kathryn Price Theatana writes in her essay Sila na Geige (Sila of the Trees "Sacred Spaces, Sacred Places" issue of Sagewoman Magazine, Winter '98/99). "In the shifting realm between the worlds, She reveals to you the gateway - the vulva of Woman - through which every one of us entered this world, through which all of our foremothers entered this world -- like an archway-pillared corridor reaching all the way back to First Woman." Because this piece is a Sheela na gig, it is meant to be touched. When designing it I had in mind the upward thrust of gothic arches. I also worked with the image of generations of women giving birth to each other, reaching into the future and back into the past. 

The red yoni is reminiscent of an Amazon warrior's shield. The reddish hue is also the color of a menstruating woman's yoni. With the shield shape, the vulva becomes an active, protective, assertive symbol-- women protecting themselves and fighting for their lives. This piece is also reminiscent of a seed with its layers, or the flame of a candle.

Spero, Nancy (1995). From the art exhibition of Leon Golub and Nancy Spero: War and Memory.  Organized
   by Katy Kline and Helaine Posner.  MIT List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge April 15-June 25, 1995.
Theatana, Kathryn Price (1998). Sila of the Trees. Sagewoman Magazine, Winter 98/99.

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