Domesticity

“Ideas about mothers have swung historically with the roles of women. When women were needed to work the fields or shops, experts claimed that children didn't need them much. Mothers, who might be too soft and sentimental, could even be bad for children's character development. But when men left home during the Industrial Revolution to work elsewhere, women were "needed" at home. The cult of domesticity and motherhood became a virtue that kept women in their place.”
Sandra Scarr

‘Domesticity’
Camisole de Force 

Vintage Crochet, and
Hand Embroidered 

By Jennifer Randall 

‘House chores’ and childcare are often not a choice by women. 
Systemic societal dynamics keep women and men in roles they are frequently not suited for. Throughout history, women’s responsibilities have been decided for them. They become a constraint when choices are not readily available. 
I was not in a household where both parents had a sharing role in anything, from child rearing to decision making. 
As pretty as the home can seem and as lovely as children grow up to be, the understanding and consent of domesticity is essential.

The reoccurring thoughts of what domesticity means and how to navigate the gender specific role this implies throughout history is the subject matter of the newest camisole de Force piece. There was some struggle with how to represent such a vast and bottomless well of a subject. How could I portray all the feelings I have about this subject into one art piece? Since I can't, I decided to keep the simplicity aspect of this one. Let the material and simple words again carry this theme.

I chose vintage crocheted doilies and pieces that I had been saving for 'something'. Sewing them together from the straight jacket pattern and creating that as a base. The foundation of constraint is tied in with a gender based 'hobby' or busy work. The embroidered words were deliberated on and chosen as a representation of what is expected from a woman in a domestic setting. These roles or norms haven't changed too much over the centuries. 

I was asked the question in response to the posting of this piece, 'What about the women who like that lifestyle? Will you represent them too?' 

I appreciated this question from my friend. 

My Response: "Understanding historical and societal implications and constraints is what this series is all about. 
Consent and choice is important to recognize. Historically women around the world have not had a choice in their roles. 
This is what I am representing. It’s what strikes me as an inequality throughout time. 
If someone wants to represent a different view that’s fine! People do represent this dynamic all the time. Advertisers, the workplace, financial repression. 
I’m showing another side. 
I love my kids and I adored raising them. I love nesting. 
I think many men do too, but they were not able to due to society stereotypes.

Also, how do we pull apart the layers of who we are, from the decades upon decades of layers of set gender roles? 
It’s difficult."

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Camisole de Force Series - The Process

My process begins with a lot of thinking. I'm thinking about how I want to approach my next piece, and what I want it to say, both visually and metaphorically. I write down idea after idea. I cross out many directions and often start over. I make small sketches, and replay the vision in my mind over and over of how the piece will turn out. 

I constantly ask myself, 'How can this be expressed BETTER?' 'Is there another approach that isn't quite obvious right now, that would push the artistic side of this project?'. 

Sometimes it falls into place so naturally. Sometimes the thoughts take drastic turns and throw me off balance, but in the end I have worked out so many details. Following each idea down a side path is helpful, even if I abandon it there. It all helps sort things out. 

I research by reading a lot online, and in books, about the subject I am using in my art. This can be time consuming but it all is an integral part of making the pieces stronger. 

Next comes the hands on making the art. Many pieces require me to learn a new technique, or incorporate things I am not familiar with. there definitely is some trial and error and compromises at this point. Finding how to work the materials to complete the idea is a task,

It's all a process! Fast or slow. Time is often irrelevant. It takes the time it takes. 

 

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