Art of Woman

Tamara - The Centrury Project

Frank Cordelle has kindly given me permission to show a photo from The Century Project that relates to my theme. All of the women who pose for Frank Cordelle choose their own setting. Tamara chose to express this part of her life in this way without any distractions. Frank’s high view-point makes her look smaller and gives her some vulnerability, yet her direct look shows strength, dignity and is completely devoid of shame. Tamara’s poem is beautiful and expresses heart aspects of menstruation that many women feel but do not know how to express. Thank you for your boldness Tamara.

Menstruation is a significant part of most women’s lives and our society tries to ignore it. There are few places where a woman can express how she feels about her periods. This site is one place where women’s expression is welcome. Send me your ideas, images, favourite sites, favourite books and I will post your comments, with your permission, of course.

The photo and poem below was published in the book: "Bodies and Souls: The Century Project" copyright © 2009 Frank Cordelle.

“The moon,
like a prospective grandmother,
keeps time.

In an empty womb,
I create space
for process.

Pale yolk
runs from me,
malnourished and alone.

All that is mine
breaks
apart
in grief

becoming
rich pulp,
the ripe fruit
of my most internal decomposition.

It gathers like angry water

beating blood

against
flush,
tender walls,
crashing comfort,
painfully pulsing

out of me.

It flows wide
spilling, furiously,
red
onto the altar of my soul,

to which I bow in need of You
in body,
in blood.”

Tamara

Types of Nudity

As an art photographer who also photographs nudes, I have been following the debate about photographing children in the nude with interest.
Nudity has many meanings and purposes. Sexuality is only one meaning of nudity.

1. Nudity can represent innocence. Cupids for hundreds of years have been depicted as nude children. Many cultures around the world allow children to run around nude until they become adults. They are considered cute and sweet because of this innocence.

2. Nudity can represent freedom. Many beaches in Australia in the summer have nude children happily playing, some have specific areas for nudes. During my childhood, there were many times the neighbourhood children went 'skinny dipping' in our local creek. This was experienced as a great sense of freedom. The parents were not worried and none of the children felt threatened by the nudity.

3. Nudity can represent our common humanity. Nudity takes away the trappings of culture, status and employment. There is a common humanity to a group of people in the nude. Many "naturist" clubs experience this and enjoy a sense of community. A link to social nudism.

4. Nudity can represent caring. A great deal of child care involves nudity, for example, bathing, toilet training, getting dressed. When people are old or become an invalid, again nudity is a part of caring. None of us should withhold care because we are afraid of nudity.

5. Nudity can be healing and wholeness. A complete physical examination from a Doctor requires nudity, also many procedures, imaging and operations. Some of the healing arts require nudity or partial nudity, at times, for example, a massage, or acupuncture. Healing can be greatly impaired if society and individuals become too afraid of nudity. Imagine trying to give birth with cloths on! Yet that is what happened for centuries in many cultures, potentially endangering both mother and child. Doctors themselves must study nude photography in medical text books. It is impossible to show examples of medical conditions covered by clothing.

6. Nudity as activism, political statement, social comment or dramatic humour. Sometimes people use nudity to articulate their views in a dramatic way. Animal rights, tree-hugging hippies, streakers, women's rights etc.

If we as a culture say that it is always unacceptable to show a child in the nude, then this gives a very negative view of the body to children. They grow up fearing their bodies. They grow up hiding their bodies and not really knowing what is usual or unusual and what needs checking.
I am concerned at the moral panic about nudity in Australia at the moment. I am referring to the recent case of a six year old girl on the cover of Art Monthly magazine. This moral panic is likely to curb free speech and creativity in Australia. There are many more artistic and symbolic ways to view nudity that enhance human experience. Artistic creativity should be encouraged in society, it expands our thinking and enriches our lives.

God has made our bodies in a very beautiful way and we should be able to look at our bodies without thinking about sex all the time. 

Getting dressed

My model rung me to apologise for being late because she needed to shave her legs. She arrived and we did some interesting work. The incident reminded me of a book I have been reading, "Dirt, Undress and Difference - critical perspectives on the body's surface" Adeline Masquelier ed, Indiana University Press 2005.

There is a description of a strip dancer preparing for work. It goes into detail for three pages (96-98). This makes me think about the whole notion of what is dressed and what is undressed and which bits to show and which bits to hide. Certainly the dancer took great care in presenting her body in a particular way. She took longer than most people to get 'dressed' for work!
We all have the right to present our bodies the way we choose.