Last week I had a lovely visit to the Worcester Art Museum (What a FABULOUS cultural gem hidden in the mid-sized city of Worcester, MA. GO VISIT!!) They have a wide range of art from Pre-Colombian statues from Peru to Modern 20th century art. While I was there, I was struck by the often body positive, diverse representation of the female body in many of the pieces of art. I wrote this letter to those painted, sculpted figures who made a difference in this feminist's life.
Have Your Voice Heard: Become an Odyssey Creator
We've never conversed but I feel as we had a brief connection together. It may have been a bit one-sided, as you are inanimate figures created long ago, but I will be forever thankful for you.
To all the sorrowful Virgin Marys, clutching her Son in the knowledge of his foretold death, your tragic eyes proved to me that it's okay to grieve and not always have to plaster a smile on your face.
To the standing woman in Renoir's "Jewish Wedding", who isn't afraid to dance joyfully when others are seated.
To the woman in the blue dress, who knows her limits and takes a moment to self-care on a dreary day.
To all the Renaissance nudes and Indian goddess figures with their rounded bellies and thighs that I've never seen on a movie screen or mannequin and to their painters who immortalized their fuller version of beauty for thin-obsessed posterity.
To Winslow Homer's woman in "The Gale" who bravely stares into the storm as she carries her baby home to safety. You show a different side to motherhood than the frustratingly passive, inactive mother figure that dominates literature and TV shows.
To the paintings of Saint Catherine as you bravely face the torture of a spiked wheel, thank you for reminding me that faith is not for the fainthearted.
To the numerous breastfeeding figures, normalizing a nurturing behavior deemed publicly unseemly in our society.
To the brooding strong woman of color and to her painter Paul Gauguin who didn't visually fetishize her.
To the woman painted as artists in their own right with brushes or portfolios in hand, you inspire so many young women like myself to follow our artistic dreams even if we've been historically left out of the canon.
To the woman with her cat, who didn't let frizzy hair or a double-chin detract from her beauty.
To the figures of protest and defiance in the special citizenship exhibit, thanks for inspiring me to be a more active intersectional feminist ally. From the photographs of civil rights marchers in the 1960s to the Occupy poster reminding everyone of the intersection of class and feminine identity, your actions have been immortalized through a camera's shutter or a artist's hand.
A Feminist Museum-Goer