In Partnership with Piano Craft Gallery, 2023
Banner Art detail: Mindy Nierenberg, "The More Things Change, The More They Stay the Same"
I began conceptualizing this piece after the recent Dobbs v. Jackson Supreme Court decision overturned Roe v. Wade and a woman’s right to reproductive freedom. It is stunning that so many believe is fine for an 11-year-old to give birth after incest, for a woman to bear the child of her rapist, or to be forced to preserve the life of a fetus over her own. For any reason, the right of a woman to have autonomy over her own body is a human right. Compassion, generosity of spirit, and the desire to listen to each other’s stories is either bifurcated or non-existent.
I researched the history of abortion and the genesis of the “pro-life” movement, coming to understand more deeply the intersectional nature of abortion, as the story is not only about women, but has roots to slavery, colonialism, immigration, socio-economic status.
My art has been inspired by the connections I see between old or discarded material objects, our shared humanity, and the stories that they tell. I used vintage handkerchiefs in this piece, not pristine and white, but yellowed, stained, stretched, and ripped. They were used by women, saved, lost, given away; I imagine remnants of tears. They are printed with text that I hope will give context to what the viewer already knows about the struggle for reproductive justice or provide a new way to see it. The numbers on each hankie were taken from a page in a book published in 1920, A Practical Medical Dictionary. The last panel reads:
Forced birth is the perpetration of violence and cannot exist in a civilized society or a democracy.
“I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept.”
~ Angela Davis
Finally, a personal story was in my mind throughout the act of making. My mother-in law was a staunch Roman Catholic and pro-life activist. I am Jewish and fervently pro-choice, yet our relationship couldn’t have been more loving. She passed away and several of the handkerchiefs belonged to her. I believe she would have understood and supported my using them.