Portfolio: Heroines - Ovum -- Pressing On

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Awareness of the persistent and dedicated work of individuals such as Margaret Fuller in the 19th C. and Hannah More in the 18th C. illustrates not only the depth and density of deep seated issues, but also serves to inform us of the progression within our culture and inspires us to continue to raise one's voice to inequality and injustice.


OVUM
- Homage to Margaret Fuller (images 1- 5)

OVUM takes physical, material, and intellectual inspiration from Margaret Fuller Ossoli's Woman In The Nineteenth Century, and Kindred Papers Relating to the Sphere, Condition and Duties, of Woman. Boston, 1855, Introduction by Horace Greeley, Edited by her brother Arthur F. Fuller.

Sarah Margaret Fuller Ossoli (1810 – 1850) was an educator, social reformer, transcendentalist, critic, abolitionist, the first American female foreign correspondent and woman's rights advocate. One of her most significant works Woman in the Nineteenth Century is considered the first major feminist work in the United States, first published in 1845.

An advocate for woman's education and the right to employment, Fuller argued that “we would have every path laid open to Woman as freely as to Man.” She challenged existing ideas and explored the essence of gender in her writings of the 1840's, giving birth to the idea of empowerment of women, a “fullness of being” for both men and women and ultimately feminist ideals. It has become one of the major documents in American feminism.


PRESSING ON - Homage to Hannah More (images 9 - 57)

PRESSING ON takes physical, material, and intellectual inspiration from Hannah More's An Estimate of the Religion of the Fashionable World: By One of the Laity, London, 1791. Published anonymously, it was one of the most widely read books of the day.

Pages of Hannah More's writings are cut, scorched, woven and layered with textiles, thread, lace and sandpaper - a jumbled text pierced with linen threads, cascading, thickly knotted or delicately embroidered. Antique “sad” (solid) irons convey the stories, presented singly or installed as multiples, evoking the tactile, experiential memory of a domestic labor force. The sad irons represent the erstwhile servitude of those pressing, the 'herstories' of those laboring under the demands for pressed garments and linens, to suit class distinctions and societal expectations. Garments carefully and repetitively manipulated, aided by the parallel tasks of mending, sewing and primping, were ultimately to be transformed by the applied and consistent heat and pressure.

Hannah More (1745 – 1833) was an abolitionist, poet, social reformer, philanthropist, feminist, writer and a member of the intellectual group “Bluestockings” along with Samuel Johnson. She has been referred to as the “First Victorian”, bridging the 18th and 19th centuries. Her writings and benevolence strongly influenced the public mind and social character of her day. Strictures on the Modern System of Female Education, 1799, contained many pro-feminist overtones. More's life-long overriding cause was galvanizing women to act not as domestic ornaments, but as thinking, engaged and responsible beings. She devoted herself to educating and helping the poor, establishing over sixteen charitable schools.

Hannah helped give the abolition movement a public voice with her writings. Publishing and collaborating with William Wilberforce, an outspoken member of Parliament, she remained active in the anti-slavery movement her entire life. Her poem Slavery published in 1788 coincided with the first parliamentary debate on slave trade. More wrote The Sorrows of Yamba (or The Negro Woman's Lamentation) in 1795. Dying in September of 1833, she lived just long enough to see slavery abolished in the British Empire. More's fierce convictions were moral, social and political. Writing was an influential tool which she masterfully utilized throughout her life.

"Her juxtaposition of materials, for her PRESSING ON Series, combines artifact, word, and fabric. The hardness of iron, the graciousness of lace, and the wisdom of words combines as a testament to women's tenacious movement forward. PRESSING ON honors abolitionist/feminist Hannah More and integrates history, memory, domesticity and celebrates women's political and public voice." Mara Mills, Deputy Director, Hudson Valley Museum of Contemporary Art

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