portrait of Cathleen

I have been playing around with the image of the sheela-na-gig sheela1l.jpgin my mind and decided to explore that image in some of these photos. It is an image that combines power and vulnerability, and because of my own ambivalence about being a woman, which has been equivalent with being violated for much of my life, this exposed power allows me to embrace a femininity that I would never have allowed in the past.

I have been thinking of the exposed, exaggerated vulva of the sheela-na-gig as a symbol of controlling and embracing the strength of the feminine. In the past, my relationship with my own sexual/gendered self was filled with disgust. I viewed my own body, my sexuality, as a scar, evidence of all the past abuses I had suffered and all the ways that I allowed myself to be violated. Now I am beginning to embrace my sexual body for its power. I am learning to see myself as feminine when in the past, I resisted femininity, feeling exposed and weak. These photos speak to my newly-forming visions of the feminine as powerful.

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