This series is a study in control and blame. Each photo references, explores and challenges the mythological, biblical, and historical grey areas relating to violence against women and places focus on the present-day parallels of these women's stories.
Grey areas are born out of an unwillingness to accept an action as unequivocally black or white, right or wrong, good or evil. Grey areas can be used to further an individual’s own biases or create doubt in an otherwise solid conclusion. As the gatekeepers of stories have historically been males existing within an imbalanced power structure, grey areas have been used to perpetuate rape culture, strategically justifying and excusing assault or redirecting blame towards victims.
The stories of Proserpina, Susanna, and Medusa are presented here through poems and allegorical still lifes, highlighting the part of their story that has been manipulated to shift blame away from their abusers: the pomegranate seeds, the oak leaves, and Medusa’s curse. All of these are elements used to debate these women’s role in the violence enacted against them.
These women all exist in a space where their innocence or condemnation depends on a reader’s ability to cherry pick intentionally vague or contradictory details to reach a conclusion. The common denominator of these stories is that the grey areas exist in consideration to the woman's behavior, not the man’s. In each story, the man’s violence is not questioned. The woman’s actions become the focus and create reason to question if the man’s actions were truly wrong.
Art, photography, and poetry have always been my way of processing through the uncertainties in my own experiences. Creating allows me to have control, which is a feeling I crave when it doesn’t seem like I have control over my circumstances. In my life, I have built a barrier of self-hatred that stood in the way of healing by twisting memories to shift blame onto myself. Studying the experiences of these women and placing myself as an outsider to my own experiences led me to realize that these barriers were built by being conditioned as a woman to blame myself for my experiences regardless of my actions. Women exist in a paradoxical expectation that places us in the wrong in every situation. It is incriminating enough just to be a woman in this world.