My mother had an abortion around 1936 when it was illegal everywhere in the country. She stayed at a clinic for a few days. A week later, the police raided the facility and arrested all the women and healthcare workers.
In 1970 my older sister had an abortion. Abortion was still illegal. Still, it was attainable if having a child would jeopardize the physical or mental health of the mother. My parents were friends with psychiatrists who attested that my sister had mental health issues making her an unfit mother. If we had not been white, middle-class, and had connections, my sister would have carried the child to term.
In 1973, the Supreme Court legalized abortion. I thought abortions were now and forever safe and legal. Then the Supreme Court overturned Roe. Now abortion is illegal in fourteen states.
I’m responding in the only way I know— making art. I make maps from non-recyclable trash, medical waste, and repurposed materials. I placed a statement that reflects the state’s position on abortion on each map using letters cut from plastic and cardboard wrappers. They are challenging to read, revealing both the difficulties doctors have interpreting the anti-abortion laws and that women who want an abortion now face in certain states. The chaotic nature of the letters references ransom notes because politicians are holding women’s bodies hostage. The remainder of the embellishments pay homage to the state:
• The state flower
• A quilt found in a museum in that state
• A replica of the state’s quarter
All the maps are on soft materials referencing a traditionally feminine craft — quilting. I left threads dangling because many women are hanging by a thread or are left hanging due to these draconian laws. Finally, we women need to stitch our lives back together however we can.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
“Sarah Schneiderman, MFA, is an assemblage artist working in Glastonbury, CT. Exhibitions include recent solo shows at Windsor Public Library, Portland Library, Avon Free Public Library, Avon, CT, Kellogg Environmental Center, Clinton Avenue Elementary School, John Martinez Sea and Sky Magnet School, ARTWALK at Hartford Public Library, Underground Gallery in Collinsville, and Art Corridor at Yale-New Haven Hospital, Saint Raphael Campus. Sarah participated in recent group exhibitions at Ely Center of Contemporary Art, Stola Contemporary Art in Chicago, IL, Georgia State University Perimeter Campus, Gallery 378 in Atlanta, GA, Woman Made Gallery in Chicago, Arts Center East in Vernon, Ice Box Project Space in Philadelphia, North Dakota Museum of Art, The Urban Collective in New Haven, and the Mattatuck Museum in Waterbury, CT.
Awards won by Sarah in Alternative Medium Award from Connecticut Women Artists, several honorable mentions and merit awards from Arts Center East, Gallery Sponsor Award from Stockman Gallery in New Britain, and First Prize from Art League of New Britain.
Publications include New Haven Independent, Record-Journal and Cheshire Citizen, The Artists Essentials, The Hartford Courant, Arts Paper (New Haven), Glastonbury Life, and ArtKatalyst.
Sarah has given artist talks for Women’s Caucus for Art – Washington, D.C. Chapter, Ely Center of Contemporary Art, Kellogg Environmental Center, Cheshire Art League, and Hamden Art League.
She led workshops for Caribbean Museum Center for the Arts, Beauty Beyond Borders, Hartford Public Library, Camp Stomping Ground, and Twin States Network (V.T. and N.H.)
Sarah is a member of Arts Center East (Signature Member (Invitational)), Arts Council of Greater New Haven, ecoartspace.org, and Women’s Caucus for Arts, Greater Washington, D.C.
Sarah has a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Corcoran School of Art, Washington, D.C., and a Master of Fine Arts, California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, California.
© Sarah Schneiderman