Deborah Hirshfield
Deborah Hirshfield, a sometime maker of colorful batik silk scarves, meant to be worn gracefully on the female body, also sometimes makes female bodies out of silk. For the latter, she molds and sews organza into faces, pregnant bellies, hands and even crotches, then suspends these body parts into configurations that recall laundry lines and meat hangers. Fabrics are hand-dyed in shades that include black, brown, blue and ivory. The socio-political relationships between all of these elements ought to register with any feminist worth her placard: the connection between so-called women’s work and women’s bodies, the many ways in which female bodies get compartmentalized and objectified, the continuing need to diversify the American women’s movement. So it comes as no surprise to learn of the auspices under which Hirshfield’s sculptures were meant to be exhibited this year, before the pandemic cancelled or virtualized so many opportunities: the Suffra-Jetting and Craftivism group exhibitions at Womanmade in Chicago, and the annual Oakton Community College Women's and Gender Studies department exhibit.

—Lori Waxman 9/2/20 2:23 PM
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