Rites of Passage: Under Frida's Spell


Rites of Passage:  Under Frida

Made for the "Staples" challenge on the quiltart list-my first challenge effort. While musing over how to incorporate staples, I thought about the use of both stitches and staples in surgery, then the emotional context of mending a broken heart--using staples and stitches to symbolically heal the wounds. Then I went to the Mexican Modernism exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum, where I saw for the first time Frida Kahlo's paintings, which are replete with Latin mysticism and overt sexuality. My mind made an intuitive leap: what was the chastity belt but a way to staple women shut?

When I was young, there were many things we were told we couldn't do because "you're a girl." This quilt celebrates the way we are shedding society's staples that constrain us. On the outside vertical panels I've written the negative things (Only boys take shop; girls take home ec, or Remember Hester Prynne? Remember her response? "A").

The center of the quilt incorporates positive symbols and words about what it means to be a woman. I hand-dyed cotton, silk voile, gauze, cheesecloth, silk ribbon and silk cord for this piece. The staples and paperclips to create the few larger shackles represent constraints women still face. Most of the "stapling shut" is gone, but bits remain.

Size: 18 x 19 inches; completed in 2003. 
In the Caple collection, Scotland.

Click here to see details of the quilt image.

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