Arts and Social Commentary: Amy Tuttle

31 03 2010

Amy's Project

My body is not the pieces and parts of woman-flesh

idolized, consumed, or denigrated by some in some cultures,

but rather an entire woman’s body, one that can feed babies, make love,

dance and sing, give birth, and bleed without dying.

This piece was created in Kensington, Philadelphia in the wake of several acts of violence including a series of rapes involving women in the artists neighborhood.  It is reflective of these specific violences but also reflective of violence against women in multiple cultures.  The images of  woman collaged into the background of the piece depict suffering experienced by woman of African descent, Indian women, women of the Middle East, the UK, as well as women in America.

The artist, Amy Tuttle, displays her works to small audiences primarily in the Philadelphia area as well as in her hometown of Canton, Ohio.  Her works have been shown at First Friday arts celebrations.  She also displays her work to small groups of activists in the city who are working together for peace, reconciliation, and justice.  This particular piece is on display in her intentional community where it serves to call the women of the community to reclaim their hearts and recognize the life that is birthed from their womanhood.

This work aims to target an audience of women.  It serves as a reflection on the history of violence against woman.  The technique of layering images of women throughout history and in multiple cultural contexts in the background of the piece serves to depict the cross-cultural, historical, and generational experience of violence and oppression shared by women.

The piece is also reactive, in protest to specific events that occurred on the artist’s block in Kensington.   Throughout the months leading up to the creation of this piece, the artist’s neighborhood experienced multiple homicides and rapes.  The piece was a means by which the artist confronted these acts of violence.

The artist is also calling women to reclaim their hearts and proclaim the poetry written above (my body is not…).  The woman in this work is in a defensive posture, possessing her heart, drawing it back in and away from an unseen threat.  She is also represented as a source of life, her locks representing tree limbs.  These limbs symbolize life growing forth as she rises from the bloody violence of the past.

This piece is a part of the feminist movement which is “alive and well in the twenty-first century, both in the form of ongoing women’s movements and in the impact of feminism within other progressive movements” (Reed, 102)

This work presents the belief that there exists a history of violence and oppression against women.  It serves to challenge this history and encourage women that our bodies are not the pieces and parts of women idolized, consumed, or denigrated by some in some cultures.  Instead, as women, we are capable of rising from our bloody past and coalescing to become entire women capable of feeding babies, making love, dancing and singing, giving birth, and ultimately bleeding without experiencing death.

There are multiple symbols embedded into this piece.  The yellow heart represents the glowing, living, creating soul of the woman.  The blood-red color of the piece is a reflection of both the life and death experienced by women.  The wild hair is shaped like the branches of trees, the hair serves as a symbol of life and creativity.  In the background, there are fertility symbols which represent the mothering and birthing roles of women.  In the background, there are also symbols of women’s bodies that are iconic and valued amongst different cultures.  These symbols serve as denigrating and oppressive symbols. For example, the naked and “perfectly formed” body of the woman in the bottom left corner represents the woman that is idolized in American culture.  This woman’s presence in western media has serious negative consequences on the way women feel about themselves and their bodies and the way that men engage with western women.  This symbol also creates unrealistic expectations as to what the woman is expected to be, expectations that are internalized by both men and women.

The artist regards this work as hopeful and empowering to women.  The creation of the work was an act of protest and a means of healing for the artist as well as her community.  The artist hopes that this work will inspire her audience to continue to rise from violence and embrace the true beauty of womanhood, not the idolized woman depicted by media.

medium- cardboard, house paint, collage, papier mache

date created- 02/19/2010

Works Cited

Reed, T.V. (2005). The Art of Protest. Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press.




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