kristen s. wilkins

Making Venuses

This last year, I have been experimenting with process-based art works. Some involve making chemical transformations to things (such as soaking found bones for weeks to clean and sanitize them, or “brewing” Oak Gall Ink), while others are about collecting or researching.

This image set contains some of my “Venuses”, the tiny, mostly feminine objects I have been drawn to at museums such as LACMA, the Met, the Denver Art Museum, or the Chicago Art Institute, to name a few. I have been making these objects to explore what it must have been like to make them originally (these figures vary in geographical as well as chronological origin), and what they might have meant symbolically.

Using archeological photographs, I recreated the Venus of Willendorf to her approximate size and proportion (I am not worrying about being 100% true to the original, but trying to capture the essence of the object), and was most surprised by the way the size of the object felt in the hand. She is always photographed floating in space, but there is no side of her that would stand or lay comfortably. However, her form fits comfortably and satisfyingly in the palm. 

The speculation around the function or reason of these objects range from goddess representations (Isthar, Ashtar, Venus, etc.) to fertility spells, toys to masturbatory aides. They could have been a means to objectify the female body, but they could also symbolize an overall appreciation of the female body within the culture and species.

I will post more as they are photographed.

Using Format