Introducing the Vagina China Collections
This project by The “Women’s Art League” involves creating thirteen unique sets of Vagina China with some collections referencing classical pottery patterns and all sets adorned with cast vulvas. Each set speaks to an issue that impacts women today—from periods to pleasure, from sex trafficking to social activism.
Vulva la Résistance
"Vulva la Résistance" is Vagina China’s inaugural set, influenced by the first Women's March in January, 2017. The name also references the 1940’s Résistance, a collection of French movements that fought against the Nazi occupation of France. Protesters often spoke of a pivotal moment when they witnessed intolerable acts of injustice, after which they could no longer remain passive.
The horizontal arrangement of the “Vulva la Resistance” collection beautifully depicts a movement that took to the streets worldwide to protest the 2016 US presidential election and celebrates a collective “rising up” against the patriarchy. The spectrum of pink to brown dots represents the vulva and the “pink pussy” hats worn by people marching in unity. The lace motif that is embossed into the smaller plates renders the ultimate feminine fabric.
"The Flower of Life" set is a tribute to the antiquities of ancient Greece, the birthplace of democracy and sexual plurality. This collection celebrates women and their birthright to feel pleasure and enjoyment of one’s body. Historically women are not encouraged to put themselves first whether sexually or in attending to the needs of others. The style is emulated with authentic Greek designs and beckons the viewer to understand that contentment, pleasure and enjoyment start with the self and radiate outward, thus subverting an established system or thought.
Flower of Life
The Wage Gap
Gold has shaped history. It has been used as currency since ancient times and the US and world economies were once valued in gold. This collection found inspiration in the historic valuation of gold, its opulence, and its power throughout history to contrast with issues of the gender-pay gap, which devalues women in the work force through wage discrimination. Women have always made less gold. Today, women make 77 cents to every dollar a man makes. For women of color, the gap is significantly wider; African-American women earn only 64 cents per dollar, and Latinas just 55 cents. Women need one more degree than men to make the same average salary. They still are not receiving equal pay for equal work, let alone equal pay for work of equal value. The arrangement of “The Wage Gap” suggests both a coin purse and vagina, and invites the viewer to contemplate why this gender-pay gap still exists for women today.
“La Matadora” explores the complexity of issues surrounding menstruation. The shame, stigma, and embarrassment that is prevalent in many parts of the world exists despite the natural, healthy process of discharging blood and secretions from the uterine lining from puberty until menopause, except during pregnancy. The difficulties of coming of age still impact young women greatly worldwide. Young girls in underdeveloped countries often describe their first period as a punishment, due to lacking basic knowledge about their sexual and reproductive health compounded with the ongoing struggle to access menstrual health supplies. The shame and taboos surrounding menstruation undermine a young woman’s health and rights and are often subjected to stigma or missing school due to difficulty managing hygiene. Dignified treatment and education and access to products is a human rights issue to strive for, putting an end to embarrassment over a normal human body function. This collection is about ending shame and empowering women with their life-giving abilities.
The Silk Road
This set of ceramics references The Silk Road—the ancient and storied trade route linking Asia, the Middle East, and Europe—with the iconic blue and white china patterns long traded along it. But it wasn’t only fine china and rare goods that were traded along The Silk Road, it was also a heavily-used sex trafficking route and remains so today.
Sex trafficking is one of the world's fastest growing crimes, affecting every part of the world, with still more trafficking occurring on the internet and much of it along the black market’s appropriately named “Silk Road.” Global commercial profits for sexual slavery are estimated to be roughly $99 billion annually. The International Labor Organization estimates that there are 4.8 million people trapped in forced sexual exploitation globally, 99% of whom of are female.
The Denver area is itself a sex trafficking hub. Because of its geographic location in the middle of the country, it is both a destination state and also a transit state for trafficking. With a roughly $40 million industry, human trafficking is a growing issue which impacts every corner of Colorado.
By contextualizing historic imagery within a contemporary framework, “The Silk Road” aims to bring awareness to the horrific exploitation of women through the modern sex trade, asking viewers to consider the inextricable link between underground markets and sexual slavery.