PLASTIQUE is an ongoing exploration of manufactured desires, contemporary cultural mores, and their tensive effect on our psychosocial well being. This chapter, PLASTIQUE EXPECTATIONS, was born of personal necessity, and began with a series of photographs I had taken when I was 33 years old and 20 weeks into my second pregnancy.
I had never given fertility much thought outside of the family planning aisle at the local pharmacy. So when I lost my first pregnancy to early miscarriage at age 31, and failed to conceive in the many difficult months that followed, I began to suspect infertility. Time ticked on, and I found my concept of self crumbling under the dead weight of grief, loss, and endless questions for which there seemed to be no answers.
Piecing myself back together was a lengthy process centered around accepting that my body may never carry a child. I started revising my old plans, and eventually I discovered a renewed sense of contentment as I started looking forward to a different but satisfying life path.
My doctor discovered my second pregnancy during a routine appointment only a short time later. To say it was unexpected would be understating my shock, and I was sorely unprepared for the identity crisis that followed. I struggled to feel fully present in my skin as my body started to change; in spite of physical evidence to the contrary, I no longer identified as a fertile woman and hadn’t for some time.
I arranged for a friend to photograph my body so that I might see myself from the outside without the relentless internal noise that accompanied my reflection in the mirror.
PLASTIQUE EXPECTATIONS is based on those photographs and is the sole visual record of my pregnancy. The manipulation of each image aims to reveal part of a complicated and multi-layered narrative. Individually, they represent one of three ages within the span of a woman’s fertile years, and are intended to reflect dominant themes and culturally imposed messages that characterize each of these ages. Collectively, the triptych is intended to illustrate an experience of fertility that extends beyond my own.
PLASTIQUE EXPECTATIONS: Three Ages of Contemporary Female Fertility exhibited May/June 2012 at Garner Narrative Contemporary Fine Art, 642 E. Market St. (corner of Market and Clay Streets), in Louisville, KY. Opening: Thursday, May 3 2012. Reception: Friday May 4 2012, 6-9pm. Gallery hours are Wed-Sat 1-6, First Friday 1-9, and by appointment.