Options for Aging : Nubile, Fertile, Futile, Senile
“Options for Aging…” consists of four conceptual ceramic sculptures utilizing the teapot format to offer analysis and commentary on the issue of women and aging. This work looks critically society’s expectations of women’s roles during four distinct stages of the life cycle. Each of these stages is represented by a single “teapot.” The teapots are titled, with increasing sarcasm, “Nubile,” ”Fertile,” “Futile,” and “Senile.” Each teapot body takes the form of an egg and relies on placement of handles and spouts, as well as surface imagery to communicate the meaning of the work. This series illustrates the manner in which society undervalues women’s contributions, especially as they age, and asks us to rethink our assumptions.
“Nubile,” representing youthful femininity, is surrounded by many spouts and handles signifying the abundance and ridiculousness of youth. “Nubile” is adorned with images of pin-up girls, fish and seashells. The piece is crowned with pearls and an open seashell as a nod to Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus,” the famous painting of the goddess of beauty and love.
“Fertile,” the second sculpture in the series, looks at common notions of fertility. It has no handle whatsoever but five spouts from which crystal droplets flow. A ripe pear tops the vessel. The surface of the piece is covered with idealized pictures of mother and child, as well as fruit and flowers.
The title of the third sculpture in the series is “Futile.” Depicting women’s later adulthood the teapot has no spout, only handles indicating the demands of homemaking, child-raising and wifery. Images domestic items and food abound.
“Senile,” the fourth and final pot in the series represents old age. With absurd upside-down spouts and a surface of grey and sagging flesh, this pot reminds us that we view old women as doddering and useless. A fat cat gazes expectantly from the top of the pot and images of women teaching children, roses, embroidery and pearls present a more dignified view of old age.
“Options for Aging: Nubile, Fertile, Futile, Senile” asks us to pay attention to our simplistic and often negative notions about women and aging through a meditation on the teapot form. That the teapots themselves are, in effect, useless decorative objects further underscores the critical message of the work.
Each piece is about 22”h x 13w”x13d” in size.