Finding the meaning

An interesting opening this afternoon at A New Leaf/Sculpturesite Gallery in Sonoma. The show was titled “Being a Woman”, featuring the work of 5 artists. We already have art from two of them, Jane Burton and Gale Hart.  After this show, there may be another headed our way.

What I’m here to talk about today is this piece, from Jane Burton:

36 different shapes on the wall.

36 different shapes on the wall.

There it was–36 different little shapes made of plaster and wax, attached to the wall and strongly side lit.  I looked at it, I walked around a bit, I looked so more, I had no bloody idea what it was about.

Fortunately, I saw this smiling face:

Jane Burton, artist and friend.

Jane Burton, artist and friend.


Jane lives in Walnut Creek, and we see her frequently. I’m kind of forward, so I just asked her, “what the heck is this all about?”

Now I know more about Jane’s reproductive organs than I ever thought I would.

It turns out that the forms of the sculpture are all IUD’s.  Jane had one one, specifically the Dalkon Shield, and is now infertile because of it.  She’s been hospitalized with PID (pelvic inflammatory disease) 5 times.  You might say she’d kind of cranky about it.

The reason for the lighting is to accentuate the shadows, not the forms. She’s concerned with the shadows of the IUD, the long term effects for women, the way the drug companies just sell IUD’s overseas when they are banned in the US.  The artwork is a very strong commentary on the issue.

Dalkon shield and its shadow.

Dalkon shield and its shadow.

The concept is great, and knowing the meaning made the artwork considerably more interesting. There may not be a way to put all of that on a title card next to the artwork, though. Maybe Jane could just stand in the gallery forever to enlighten the public.

It isn’t often you get the chance to talk directly to the artist to learn about a work of art, that’s just another reason to go to gallery openings.  The food was really good, too.


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