Jacqueline Secor: Painting Vulvae


Having grown up in Pollock Pines, CA at the base of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Jacqueline draws influence from nature as well as primitive art and prehistoric cave paintings. "Diversity of Nature" focuses on the elemental power of the female body, and serves as a celebration of womanhood.The project began as a personal coping mechanism to battle Body Dysmorphia Disorder.

“Best. Worst. Perfect. Gross. These are words that are too often used to describe female bodies. Women and girls face daily criticisms, not over the quality of their accomplishments or the content of their hearts, but of the bodies they were born in.” Jacqueline shares with Howl. “Judgement comes in many forms and from many directions, but worst of all, women criticize themselves and their own bodies. This series creates a space free from comparisons, where each body is honored in all of its individuality. Choosing to portray vulvae as parts of nature is not about trying to make them “prettier” but about showing vulvae as they are: integral elements of the natural world we are a part of. The beauty, the strength, the very survival of nature depends on diversity. So too with humans.”

Artist:

Jacqueline Secor

Age:

28

Born in:

Placerville, California

Based in:

Salt Lake City, Utah

Inspirations:

Nature, life cycles, prehistoric and indigenous art.

I am inspired by species throughout nature and their incredible art forms. Humans are only minute contributors to these beautiful images, from the pufferfish nests, the bowerbird courtship rituals, to man's Venus of Willendorf and Stonehenge . All these incredible self expressions define uniqueness, yet this art unites all living creatures. Biology is the greatest contributor of masterpieces, from instinct, trial and error, natural talent, to sheer determination; we all benefit from its magnificence.

“Biology is the greatest contributor of masterpieces, from instinct, trial and error, natural talent, to sheer determination; we all benefit from its magnificence.”


How would you describe your style?

My work is instinctual, primal, and organic. By intertwining visual depictions of nature with vulvae, I feel I am connecting people to mother earth.

About your work:

I work from a photo reference that is sent to me by the model. I have had women from all around the world: friends, family members, casual acquaintances, and total strangers contribute as models for my work. I ask each model beforehand what imagery they would like to see reimagined in their painting and why. This helps me to portray the elements in a more meaningful way. Most of my work is mixed media - acrylic, watercolor, ink, pastels and collage. Some of these pieces are sculptural; which is hard to see in a photograph. In my paintings, one can see intricate detail in-between and underneath layers.

I can't thank my models enough; together we are helping others to reclaim their individuality.

Why is it an important time to represent the female anatomy?

Our society has created an entire culture around how our vaginas are “supposed” to look. Gynecologists have reported an increase in demand for labiaplasty among teenage girls. I feel this is all based in the desperate quest for an arbitrary version of “perfection”, which has a lot to do with our value on superficial beauty in a patriarchal society.

“Women and girls face daily criticisms, not over the quality of their accomplishments or the content of their hearts, but of the bodies they were born in”


Artists are some of the most politically engaged people. Do you find yourself actively supporting a particular movement or cause?

Art has always been political. So have women’s bodies. Women’s bodies have been blamed for inciting sexual violence that is enacted against them. Breastfeeding has been deemed “indecent.” Birth control has been regulated by politicians who have never menstruated. Laws, religious texts, and social norms attempt to regulate women’s bodies and behavior. From the time a little girl is told she’s cute, to the first time that she’s called “sexy,” the message is the same: her worth comes from her appearance. Part of my intention in creating this series is to escape from the cult that tells women they must be pretty to have worth. In portraying the diversity of nature I hoped to overcome the shame that many women are taught to feel against their own bodies based on others' definitions of beauty. There is nothing wrong with celebrating feminine beauty; however, it is problematic when beauty is the only feminine value worth celebrating. When I look at my series, I see beauty in every painting, but I also see power. I see a history of suffering and the ability to overcome that pain. I see hope for equality.

Any upcoming projects/exhibitions?

I have work in the “Recycle 2017” International Exhibition juried by Harriet Taub. This show runs from May 13th – June 18, 2017 at the Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition. More info here.

I am also a part of The Studio Door’s “PROUD” exhibition catalog here. I do commissions. For more info email: secor27@gmail.com

“[I'm] showing vulvae as they are: integral elements of the natural world we are a part of”




“There is nothing wrong with celebrating feminine beauty; however, it is problematic when beauty is the only feminine value worth celebrating.”



“From the time a little girl is told she’s cute, to the first time that she’s called “sexy,” the message is the same: her worth comes from her appearance.”




“Art has always been political. So have women’s bodies. Women’s bodies have been blamed for inciting sexual violence that is enacted against them. Breastfeeding has been deemed “indecent.” Birth control has been regulated by politicians who have never menstruated.”






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