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BSO 2014

Filtering by Category: Work

Dr Ronx

Jessika Wahls

Dr Ronx Dr Ronx (80CM x100cm + frame), Textile on wood

 

Dr Ronx is part of a series of hand-sewn relief portraits of inspiring female role-models created from upcycled clothing.

Being a real life London gal as well as a Doctor, i chose to create her portrait as part of my #bigswingingovaries series.

To me Ronx is the visualisation of tenacity and perseverance,- proof that through hard work your dreams can come true.

Dr Ronx

 

Dr Ronx

 

Who features in #bigswingingovaries and why

Jessika Wahls

Vivienne Westwood Became a self-trained british fashion designer around the age of 35. She's also known as the godmother of punk. From being self proclaimed anti-establishment as well as being a mother of two, to becoming one of the world most famous fashion designers with even an OBE to her belt, she is very much an inspiration to any women today! She does not associate herself to be a feminist, but by all means leads a very inspirational life, full of drive, determination and creativity. _DAF0010 copy

Frida Kahlo

Was a mexican painter, also self-taught , who is often associated with the surrealist movement, although she often proclaimed that she wasn't painting her dreams, but much more her own reality! Badly hurt and deeply wounded for life by a bus accident, she was bed-ridden and in stabilising corsets for most of her life, which inspired many scrutinising self-portraits. Her crass depiction of the female body and genitalia ,in fact the female condition, has spoken to many women of my generation. She is widely seen as a feminist heroin. unnamed

Marlene Dietrich

A fellow Berliner, and a 1920 screen serene, Marlene is a huge inspiration due to her bravery in war times, for being openly outspoken as a famous german actress and chanteuse against the 3 Reich and Hitler, performing for american soldiers near the german borders to keep the spirits high, and eventually excepting american citizenship. Playing with the gender roles, in dressing androgynous very much like Friday Kahlo and therefore challenging the set social structures of the time, when women were expected to dress feminin stay at home and raise children, which part in large parts was also taken on by her husband. _DAF0073 copy

Isabel Allende

Is a chilean writer and niece of fallen president of Chile, Salvador Allende and one of my favourite authors. Her stories usually beautifully weave together historic events and story telling fiction mainly exploring women and the female condition. She actively supports feminism with her charity foundation inspired by the early passing of her daughter Paula.(http://www.isabelallendefoundation.org/) The foundation is dedicated to supporting programs that promote and preserve the fundamental rights of women and children to be empowered and protected . _DAF0074 copy

Beyoncé Knowles

Is an american singer songwriter and actress. She is one of the most successful female stars on the planet and a self-described modern-day feminist! Her songs are often themed with love, relationships, monogamy, female sexuality and empowerment! She is a philantrophist who supports many charities and good causes but predominantly campaigns for female empowerment. Also, i gotta admit, i have spent my teenage years and adolescence singing along to her 'independent women' lyrics! _DAF0124 copy

Me - Jess de Wahls

Being a product of influences and experiences, i have found that one of the most important qualities for empowerment and strength is self-appreciation, because indeed without any you will never achieve great things in life! People can be an inspiration to you but, everybody should be kind to themselves and believe in their abilities! So there, when i am a grown-up, i want to be an inspiration! I also found in exploring role models and Feminism as my exhibition subject, that there is a distinct lack of young women standing up calling themselves a feminist, and i want to show with my portrait that feminists come in all shapes and sizes and that stereotypes like 'man-haters' 'not feminine' and whatever else anti feminists would like to have you believe are total rubbish. These stereotypes are maintained by men and women alike who instead of embracing and excepting feminism as a important part of life, rather stagnate in their own ignorance and fear, stripping themselves of the wonderful experience that real equality provides. _DAF0895 copy

Dr. Sue Black

Sue is an english computer scientist,a friend, a customer at the salon, and a huge inspiration! She is many things, such as a mother of 4 amazing kids, whom she brought up by herself after an abusive marriage ended in having to flee to a women's shelter. She then went on to study and gained her BSc (hons), followed by a PhD aged 39! She has been campaigning for equality and more support for women in tech since 1998, as well as for the saving of bletchley park , which is now saved! Her project #techmums is the charity i want to support with half the proceeds made by the sale of my pictures. It is a project that teaches mums about technology and helps overcoming fear and helplessness in face of modern day computer technic! I believe it's a fantastic thing! _DAF0677 copy

Clara Michaux

Also knows as my 4 year old goddaughter, who is not only the apple of my eye, but much more a future inspiration to me as a women and a feminist. With her in mind i came up with the up-cycled monsters, which eventually lead to the protraits i am currently sewing. I want the world to be a more equal place for her! I don't want her to be sexualised at a young age and i want to be super-jess for her and a bit of a role model really, so she sees that women can and will shake up the world!!! _DAF0603 copy

Coco Chanel

Was a french fashion designer and founder of the Chanel brand. She was credited with liberating women from the constraints of the 'corsetted silhouette' by populating the acceptance of sportive, casual chic. She was determined and full of ambition in both, her personal and professional life. Growing up in a convent in france, she learned sewing. Through a number of patrons and her immaculate sense of business, she managed to not only build a huge brand and become fully self-sufficient as a woman, but also to climb in social class,at a time where usually only marriage could do such thing! _DAF0005 copy

Pink

Is an american singer -songwriter and and actress and one of the most successful and trailblazing artists of our generation. Through her songs she challenged other singers and songwriters to add substance to their own sound. With her get-up and go attitude and sporting the odd ball, making tough women Cool, she has been and remains a huge influence on me and many other women! _DAF0070 copy

B for Big swinging Ovaries

Jessika Wahls

Beyonce1 BIG SWINGING OVARIES

That's what i call my upcoming show and it's going to be major- to say the least!!

I am currently feverishly working on putting this exhibition together, creating awareness about female issues such as the strive for equality which unfortunately still very much needs communicating about! The need of inspiring female role models has been of great importance to me, as many young women seem to shy away from the label 'FEMINIST' and what it stands for. They are scared to be associated with 'man-hating' 'armpit hair- loving' and generally ridiculous stereotypes which i still encounter on a daily basis. Sexism is still very much on the agenda for us ladies, and it needs addressing!

People say that Feminism has become a bad word and that it needs revamping, -i disagree! I feel that people need educating more than anything since, lets face it- it's not the word that needs the revamp- it's peoples preconceptions and narrowmindedness that needs to be tackled!

Any new word will be bashed by those who refuse to understand that feminism isn't a war on men, but much more a quest for female justice, education and equality! I suppose what i really want to do, is encourage conversation! Set question marks under long established cultural oppression that all to often is just taken for granted !

I want to be that role model for my generation as well as above and below, like these fantastic ladies i currently eternalize have been to me.

I want to send the message that it's okay to be who you are and who you want to be, look however suits you, and still be a feminist! It's not okay to go about, judging people by appearance, gender or else just because we feel threatened by it.

Furthermore i would like to highlight the joy it brings to create something new of something old, which is what retex-sculpting is all about.

 

All in all, i want to make people think, communicate and believe that EVERYTHING is possible!

 

Last but not least, -BIGSWINGINGOVARIES- will be held around the 8th of march, world women's day of 2014 in the westend, with details to be confirmed. Half of all money raised through the sale of the artwork will be donated organizations which have female education and empowerment on the agenda!

There will be magazine coverage and in general a lot of noise, of that i will make sure, and for those of you that know me, -you know it will get BIG, so watch this space,

 

cause after all-

 

FEMINISM IS THE RADICAL NOTION THAT WOMEN ARE PEOPLE TOO!

 

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Frida Kahlo "Viva la Vida Frida"

Jessika Wahls

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" Viva la vida Frida"

Frida Kahlo remains one of my all time greatest artistic  as well as human inspirations! By chance i came across the movie of the same name in 2003. I was captivated. This woman went through so many obstacles, creating ,as her husband Diego Riviera put it, poetry on a canvas. Her art has not only greatly moved me but was also the driving force behind the first feeble attempts of me taking up painting! Her influence can very much be seen in said paintings and her use of of colour has stayed with me and my art although the medium has changed. For those of you that don't know her, here is a little introduction to her art and her life.

Magdalena Carmen Frieda Kahlo y Calderón was a self-trained mexican painter, born on the 6th of july 1907 in Coyoacán, Mexico and died there at the age of 47.

She produced a great body of work, best know for her self-portraits, which she painted with her often being the subject and the object nearest to her, after a nearly fatal bus accident as a teenager which left her bed-ridden for great lengths of time.

She used her art to work through her isolation, pains, fears and disappointments and her way of portraying the female form and condition was uncompromising and raw.

She was married to the famous mexican muralist Diego Riviera, whoms extramaternal affairs caused her a great deal of pain, which can also be found in her paintings, albeit her own infidelities soon followed with men as well as women. Leon Trotzky, Josephine Baker and Isamu Noguchi where intimate relations of her to name but a few.

Riviera and Kahlo where divorced and re-married until her untimely death on july the 13th, 1954 at the age of 47. The official cause of death was given as a pulmonary embolism, although thee are plenty of rumours surrounding the 'real' reason to her early passing.

Shortly before she died, she wrote in her diary " i hope the exit is joyful - and i hope never to return"

Words hardly express the inspiration i draw of the legacy left by this woman. I am just so grateful that she was alive to make such a huge impression on me. In homage to her i have a poppy tattoo on my wrist with the caption-

Viva la Vida

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RETEX-SCULPTING and FEMINISM

Jessika Wahls

viv1viv Well well well...

This is pretty much an entire new chapter to my artistry and i believe, my most important yet! Retex-sculpting is not only a way of creating something that i believe has not been done yet- in the way , shape and form that i am doing it ;

but i also aspire to get that word in the dictionary with a picture and my name next to it. Ambitious much?? well yeah...you know me ;)

Anyhow, the way things began was a natural evolving one. HAving worked on my Monsters for a good two years, with a successful, sold-out exhibition/ auction under my belt, i started to get more and more demand for custom pieces. Little Monsters at first, but with the idea of Mini -me's that i had explored already at the exhibition, i started to develop more and more fine tuning with regards to resemblance and detailing.

Added to that came the request for more custom-made frames, and with that the idea grew in my head to actually mount the whole lot on a plywood backing. And so i did exactly that.

My first Retex-sculpure was to be Vivienne Westwood.

Why? you may ask,- well.. another idea has grown in my head. The concept of the exhibition i am working on at current- BIG SWINGING OVARIES - namely.

Simultaneously to creating my  way of sculpting fabric, i have also been on a discovery path to feminism!

And again- why? you may ask- 30 years old, and not a feminist yet?- why bother you may wonder... BECAUSE, it's so flippin important, and the older i get. the more impossible i find it to close my eyes to what is actually happening around me and everybody else!

Furthermore i found this quote that describes into the tiniest detail why:

I ALWAYS WONDERED WHY SOMEBODY DIDN'T DO SOMETHING ABOUT THAT.

THEN I REALIZED THAT I AM SOMEBODY!!!

The idea to the exhibition actually came before my actual journey to feminism began! I was thinking about a concept for a show and since i have always been drawn to biographies of interesting people- it has been a majority of female heroines that have come to inspire me by means of living their life the way the did- or still do.

So i decided to have a show in honor of these great ladies! Little did i know where the journey would lead me...!

In fact it wasn't till after a meeting with a creative contemporary that my feminist juices have been fueled. To be precise, it was the reaction to what my exhibition was going to be about, that particularly startled me- albeit on the inside..!

"so, you are a feminist then???"  was what i was asked. Doesn't really seem so weird i guess, except- it was the first time in my life, that somebody asked me that, and it was how the question was put to me, that gave me a feeling of unease.

Almost as if i had said something rather revolting or absurd. That was quickly followed with a little inside of my opponents thoughts, which were that - "feminism de-feminises women"- and - "it's not very attractive when women drink beer"-, finished with -"old gender roles are the better ones as they have proved to work"-......! I was gob smacked, to say the least.

A little confused about what just happened, i went home to discuss this with my other half,- whom i consider to be a supportive man who believes in equality  and who i live with in an equal day to day relationship for quite some time.

So i said (and excuse the nickname calling) "babe,- do you think i am a feminist?" With not to much consideration he replied "nope"

very much in the way of - "no babe- don't worry, you are not one of them"

Having just found out myself the weird feeling attached with the notion of feminism, i find it hard to blame anybody for such a reaction. And i know that there are radical feminist forces that disagree with that, but hey- so be it..!

To shorten the story to the essentials, here was my trigger. We started talking about it and it produced all sorts of feelings in me. The most dominant was - WHY DID I NEVER THINK I AM A FEMINIST????!!!!

There were all sorts of questions that i found difficult to answer even to myself, as i have grown up in a society that has come a long way, but unfortunately began to try and populate the belief that men and women are equal, when we are far from it!!!

I suppose it hadn't come to my attention, as i spent most of my 20's figuring myself out, which- believe me is a journey that will prevail for most of my life! Nevertheless- having always had a stubborn nature, a strong will and some might say a presence, i never much thought of the women that can't stand up for themselves, never mind the lack off a support system which i always had the luxury to enjoy, be it my family, or the well fare system of both, germany and the UK.

Most importantly, i always had people in my life that believed in me, and no value can be put on that! It's the only thing that matters in the end!

Right,- so with my newly awakened, thoroughly confused feminist conscientiousness, i started asking questions! Many questions at that. My part-time profession as a stylist allows me to take polls on a daily basis, and what i heard sometimes shook me to the bone!

The - i believe in equality but.... sentences flew at me in a lightening speed that makes you dizzy. Was i that oblivious to what people think??? Is that really what they think? or is that the same that had happened to me- the acceptance to certain things, which have been passed down generations, and that we just don't question???

It tickled me- it tickled me hugely. I spoke to my good friends, i asked random people that i only just had met on a night out,- women , men,- ARE YOU A FEMINIST??? and boy- the amount of people that said NO was startling, but what was even more interesting was the amount of people, that had come to believe the notion, that FEMINISM was a dirty word. A word that stands for women hating man- a word that implies that by being PRO WOMEN, one would by default be anti men....! That if one ought to be a feminist, one should surely believe in armpit hair, be against porn and and and .... the list is as long as it is ridiculous!

Interestingly enough, i found myself often ill equipped to actually answer questions with regards to these accusations. Goes to show how much the brainwash machinery has done it's magic on me...!

I started reading feminist blogs and webpages, and soon i felt, that there a huge support network out there which helped greatly with clearing up some of the nonsense that good hearted contemporaries keep repeating in the good faith that it's generally excepted and therefore right.One of my customers said interestingly that living a Patriarchal society is like being in the Matrix- often you don't know that you are right in the middle of it and therefore can't see that it exists as you lack the objective view! interesting i thought!

 

So by following some of these hugely interesting and inspiring Feminsit websites, i came across some thoughts, which i would like to quote here, as they really helped me by manifesting my believe in Feminism!

So there is this facebook page Equality4Women and the guy that runs it- yes that's right,- the GUY... he comes up with some pretty thought provoking stuff. To name but a few:

-"it's tragically fascinating that one of the arguments used by straight men against gays in the military was, that straight men would be the victims of unwanted sexual contact, including being hit on.

Gee, you mean it makes you feel uncomfortable to have unwanted sexual behaviours directed towards you, no matter how small? -How fucking interesting!!!"

-"if a girl or a woman's clothing bothers you, that says far more about your own issues than anything about her,- stop policing Women!!!"

 

-"Tired of some folks using the "boys will be boys and can't help themselves" logical fallacy ?

Well, if men supposedly can't control their biological urges, why should they be trusted in any position of leadership or authority?"

 

AND ONE OF MY FAVORITES:

The irony against the word 'Feminism' is that every other aspect of the english language has a default male setting:

Groups of men and women can be called 'guys , global initiatives are done for 'mankind', labour force is measured in 'man hours ' etc.

And so it amuses me, that men who never take issue with that are somehow offended and "feel left out" when women organize for their rights under "feminism".

Should it not go both ways?!

 

SO there, that's just a few, but i gotta say- these comments have been hugely supportive for me, as i have often just felt like these are issues i have to tackle by myself.

Another mind boggling site is Everydaysexism. That's a page which has grown hugely over the past year! In essence it's a place where women of all origins, ages and backgrounds can share the sexual harassment they fall prey to on a daily basis. IT IS SHOCKING!!!! All the while it is genius! The internet has enabled women in the whole world to not only communicate but inspire another young and fresh wave of feminism. Social networking has helped to make peoples voices heard loud and clear!!

 

I will go more into detail with my exploration of Feminism and why i am now without a doubt a Feminist and a

BIG SWINGING OVARY at that, but for now i need to get back to the sewing board.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dr Sue Black

Jessika Wahls

So this is Sue who is a marvellous wonderful human being, whom i not only have great admiration for but am also lucky enough to call a friend and a red-haired sister!!To grasp the extend of her awesomeness i suggest strongly to follow the link and check out her page! Needless to say, she's been an inspiration to me on many accounts, latest one namely, a 'mini-me monster'. The result can be seen below. Her lovely likeness will also be featured in my upcoming show #bigswingingovaries , so stay tuned!!!

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