I left teaching art to be a full-time mom after the birth of my fourth child. I’d always been a working mom. This change was profound and confusing. In fact, I felt lost and inadequate. Throwing myself into homemaking, I learned to bake from scratch. Of course, everything had to be perfect. The pressures I put upon myself were endless. I was comparing myself to an ideal American mom that, now, I’m certain, is imaginary.
Interestingly, the slow process of spending hours in the kitchen, seeking perfection in baking awakened the visual artist in me. I felt inspired to create meaningful content and tackle my feelings about the proverbial woman’s place.
My artwork relies heavily on personal symbolism. I love dualities, double entendres, and seeing multiple sides to an issue. When I came back to my art, the pie was waiting as the perfect symbol.
In Americana, the woman’s place has been “in the home” and the kitchen is the heart of the home. The image of the nurturing mother wearing an apron is an image as American as apple pie. Then, there’s the sex symbol. This is the one you don’t bring home to your apron-wearing mama. A sweet little tart, she’s our cherry pie. This is where I began with this project of making vulva pies. Exploring the diversity of the vulva, acknowledging that this place of pleasure and portal of life, is a source of shame and fear for many of us. That we often spend our lives as women, serving others and denying ourselves, both physically and mentally. I am inviting the viewer to see and claim the beauty and celebrate with me, without shame.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
I live in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and have a BFA in Painting and am certified to teach art to grades preK- 12 I spent most of my adult life to date as a public school art teacher, achieving National Board Certification. It was a very rewarding and demanding time. My accomplishments include serving on the Oklahoma Art Education Association Board, being president of the annual Oklahoma City Pinwheels for Peace Celebration, coordinating an annual Trashin Fashion Show for Earth Day at the annual Festival of the Arts, and many students who have achieved successful creative careers and liked me enough to stay in touch. In addition, I ran a very busy home bakery for many years, have a dessert blog, am a certified cake decorating instructor, and teach cake decorating courses to adults at a local vocational school. This all came full circle for my when I began using dessert as an artistic medium to react to my life and the dichotomy of womanhood.
© Mikel Ibarra