Cleaning Lady – photography engraved on plastic plaque; 8 x 5 in.
In 2005, while working on a research paper I found myself looking for synonyms of the word “woman”. I was shocked to discover that the so many of the so-called synonyms were both completely offensive and belittling (such as prostitute or cupcake) or they referred to the ways in which women served or related to others (wife, maid, etc.). I realized that there aren’t many synonyms for women that are positive or that don’t involve subservience to others. So what do these synonyms for women say about the representation, status, and iconography of women today?
Signs of Women presents silhouetted figures along with “synonyms” of women. This project questions the way both language and imagery determines our understanding of women. The images are engraved on plastic plaques reminiscent of the signs we see on bathroom doors, everyday icons that reduce us to, and sort us into, symbols.
© Lily Mayfield