Throughout history, both women and fruit have been popular and enduring subjects for paintings. Women are referred to as the earth in which man plants a formed seed, distancing women from their capacity as creator. Rather, women engaging in procreation utilize the male ‘pollen’ to create and grow the embryonic seed of future generations.
From the Nariphon of Buddhist mythology (literal fruits shaped as women’s bodies and absent bones) growing from the Makkaliphon tree, to the pomegranate of Greek mythology and the apple (or fig) of Judeo-Christian writings, women and fruit have been inextricably linked for millennia. Fruit is the basis of the temptation and fall from grace of Adam and Eve in the Bible, and serves as treacherous precursors to conflict in mythologies such as the Greek golden apple’s role in beginning the Trojan War. Women’s bodies and body parts are often compared to apples, pears, melons, lemons, and other fruit. This association and dehumanization of women has excused an enduring mistreatment, ownership, and underestimation of capacity.
Inside, transformations are happening.
Women are characterized in terms of fruiting fertility, and their ‘ripeness’ and roundness when with child. These soft and romantic terms belie the real experience of vulnerability, exposure, and messiness of bringing forth existence – the bursting forth of fluids which nurtured and protected the life within. But new lives must leave the body just as seeds must leave the fruit. Birth is wet and messy. The flesh of real fruit is destroyed in order to free the seed – in nature it is consumed, opened, cleaved – the wetness of the flesh inside in opposition to the shiny, rough, or spiny outer skin. Women survive this process again and again, and are physically and emotionally changed by the experience in diverse ways. What remains of us is tied to our essence and our past.
The works in this collection probe my own vulnerability, the transformation of self reflected in identity, the exposure required to trust, and both the dehumanizing violence and beautiful creation intertwined within the body. These works consider not the exterior of fruit, but representations and abstractions of fruit and seeds sliced open, pared, translucent, and mysterious with the gift of creation. These are the transformations brought about in nature, and the bursting forth of life, in all its fleshiness and magnificence.