Kristen Elizabeth Donoghue-Stanford
This work was a site-specific installation created inside a cottage on the South Bruce Peninsula in March 2019. The work consisted of one hundred individual pieces of knitwork, ranging from one to fifteen feet in length.
The inspiration for this installation came from the concept of female emotional labour; the work that women do that is often undervalued and invisible. Often work that is considered to be “women’s work” is cast aside and viewed as meaningless, despite the hours of labour often put into such processes. It was a skill passed on from my grandmother, which she learned from her mother, who learned from her mother, and so on. Through the creation of this work and the intense amount of labour undergone to create the individual knitted pieces in a three month period, I sought to connect myself to the women who came before me, who allowed me to have the life and rights that I currently have now. The work cascades and envelopes a male dominated space, and does not seek to control, but co-exist with it. It becomes a part of the environment.
In the midst of this dichotomy of male and female is a “woman’s work” of welded sheet steel in an abstracted form. It exists both in contrast and compliment to its environment, showcasing the evolution of “women’s work” and the changing place of women within society, but not allowing ourselves to forget the sacrifice all those women before us made and the transgressions we still face in spite of those sacrifices.
Self-Portrait (Bra) was and is an exploration of femininity. The idea and imagery of a bra holds significant meaning in feminist history and literature, and is something of importance and meaning as I wear one everyday. It is uncomfortable, agitating, and entirely too expensive, but it is a part of the everyday. Immortalizing it in bronze was a long process.
The process involved modelling it to my own form, imprinting it with the lace of past bras I had worn before, welding it together, and quite literally “burning the bra” in order to get its torched patina. It became intimate and a part of myself that I was immortalizing, no longer simply just an object. The use of bronze is ancient and often erected objects and imagery to a higher station of glory; as something to be revered. Femininity is something to be revered and admired, especially when reflected as a part of ourselves.
Kristen Elizabeth Donoghue-Stanford is a 4th year Undergraduate Student currently enrolled at York University studying Visual Arts with a particular focus in sculpture. To see more work visit @kristenelizakimber