Many women who’ve had abortions live with a grief that’s rarely spoken of, a deep silence encumbered by society’s stigmas around women’s reproductive rights. This piece invites viewers to consider a kinder reality, giving voice to the imagined spirit of an aborted fetus in a way that encourages healing and catharsis while affirming that a woman’s choice should always be hers to make.
A paper ocean evokes the water of the womb below a sequence of small waves. Water, the movement of water, and the contrasting textures and aesthetics of this piece represent both the surface and depth of water, symbolic for the elusive nature of grief. In between the paper ocean and painted wave sequence is a print of the poem made to go with this piece. The border acts a container holding ripples of emotions, keeps these waters in a balance, holding space for the movement and catharsis needed to carry darkness back into light. Hidden in the paper ocean are written affirmations supporting the healing that the poem calls for, for whoever needs to see them
This mixed media piece was made for the Abort the Stigma exhibition, held at REXKL from 28th September to 6th October, a creative initiative to raise awareness of women’s sexual and reproductive rights and to address society’s negative stigmas around it, calling for an end to the stigmatization.
Here’s a transcription of the full poem, ‘Look Closer’:
Let yourself grieve through this,
wade through the waters of your body,
for the body, like paper, remembers every dent,
every fold, every travail, and choice. Embrace
the loss that took place, a womb emptied,
a body reclaimed, agency heeded
— these are not sins for you to carry,
but lessons for all of you to love more deeply.
A woman’s body freeing itself from
guilt, from shame, from hostility,
and into the powers of forgiveness, kindness, and healing
can often make fiends out of friends, and
cowards out of saints. But,
What was never alive can never die. And so
for now, for always if you wish it,
I am with you, in you, part of you
— more guardian angel than a burden obliged,
more restored hope than unwanted child, more
merciful than a life sentence.
If we are ever to meet, let it be from a place
of love and not fear. If we are ever to meet, it should be
because your desires have led me to you. If not,
then let this be all we do for each other
— this reminder to hold nothing
for the shame and rage of others. Because
your life, your health, your choice matters
Dance through this,
In the waters of your body, for the body,
like paint, records every moment, every dream,
every breath, every movement. Make gifts of
your wounds. Never forget the courage it took
to be the rightful owner of your own destiny. Now,
hold your heart true, and repeat after me,
I love you.