"Exhibiting You" - Story

Intimate Symbols of Power

By: Joyce Polance
Submitted: 04/01/2008

Both the large size of the women and the thick, layered application of paint are meant to create an arresting visual presence echoing the internal strength of the figures. I paint the women naked to suggest their willingness to change and be vulnerable, while simultaneously embracing their sexuality and bodies. The women take ownership of both their femininity and their power. My objective is to challenge the viewers to question their own assumptions about strength and beauty.

Club depicts a woman swinging a pair of male legs. It is meant to be commentary on the old phrase "speak softly and carry a big stick." The woman shown is not speaking softly. She is coming out swinging, and willing to assert her own power. While women have brought about democracy through both gentle support and aggression, Club is about the women who have had to fight for political voice and equality. And what is democracy if not equality for both genders? This painting would also be suitable for "Women Running for Office."

Coup depicts a woman with a skirt made of penises. Looking at the penis as a symbol of power in society, it asks the question "do you need to have a penis to be politically successful?" I deliberately made the figure growing her own "symbols of power" as opposed to having chopped them off or wearing them as a trophy belt. She is owning her own power by accessing the assertive energy usually attributed to men, Yet she is also maintaining her own femininity (as represented by the skirt.) The paintings says that women can have it all.

Repair depicts a three-breasted woman wearing a bra that spells "WOW", the painting looks at breasts as a symbol of female power and identity. The woman also has a few bandages - suggesting surgery (artificial enhancement or recovery from trauma or emotional wounds?) The painting is meant to challenge the viewer with these questions: "How much is too much?", "Is enhancement OK if we feel more powerful?" "Is what we're born with our destiny?" and "Can we be powerful and celebrate with what we do have - our bodies and our motherhood? (WOW being MOM upside down)

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