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    MsPrufrock

    I have a Venus (ahem, or "Woman") of Willendorf necklace that I used to wear back in the heady days of optimism. I haven't put it on for at least 3 years because my naive superstitious qualities have been replaced by cynicism and negativity.

    Though I am an aspiring art historian, I am certainly not an artist, so I'm afraid I lack the creative input needed for your question.

    I think it is difficult to come up with an idea of a modern day "Venus", especially if you are connecting it to the oh-so-cool and hip IF crowd. In a way, my increased cynicism has led me to perceive fertility icons as a reminder of being the opposite. The Venus isn't representative of me, though she does represent how I wanted to be.

    Personally, as a woman rather than a fertile woman or infertile woman, I'm quite partial to a good ol' Sheela Na Gig. Here is an example:

    http://www.historicimpressions.com/SheelaL.jpg

    I think this representation is much like Thalia's comments on Courbet's painting, though more empowering. Rather than being depersonalised I think the Sheela Na Gig is bold and upfront about her sexuality.

    I look forward to your future monthly choices of various artworks. There is so much great stuff to choose from.

    pixi

    I like your insights, Pru. There are others who think the "venus" has nothing to do with fertility at all (thus the changing of her name from venus to woman). She may have been just a carving of a fat lady who represented an unattainable physical ideal for the lean and mean hunter-gatherers. If that's true, I say woohoo for the veneration of cellulite.

    I love the Sheela Na Gig carving. She's got wide-open eyes and a wry smile. No shame there. She also makes me think of Niki de Saint Phalle's Nanas:
    http://www.nikidesaintphalle.com/walk.html
    which to me are an unabashed celebration of all things female.

    Well then, I would be interested to hear thoughts of how to represent "woman" as the idea relates to those in the midst of fertility struggles, or not. And if anyone else has seen an interesting representation somewhere, please do share.

    Jenn

    I think she's built a bit like me :) Except I don't have the boobs she does.

    I don't really have an idea of what a modern day Venus would look like. Except she would exude strength.

    Katie/WannaBeMom

    Hey-- I was going to say what Jenn said! I like that Venus since she reminds me of me. Even the boobs. Uhg.

    pixi

    Yeah, I've got some similar parts going on there, too. Hey, maybe what we're talking about is sort of an anti-venus?

    Manuela

    What you propose is sooo interesting... but... for the life of me I am completely unable to develop an image of a modern-day venus... My head is so clouded by siliconed, air-brushed, lipo'd, porcelain veneered, gel nailed, hair extensioned, fake-tanned, size zeroed BLEEEEECCCH that has become the media ideal... that I automatically go to the polar opposite... which is ALSO not the right image for me...

    Hmmm... the closest image that comes to mind is a naked Kate Winslet from the era of Titanic and Holy Smoke... which for ME was a visually perfect representation of womanhood.

    MsPrufrock

    Uh, yeah...what Manuela said. Kate Winslet is way hawt. Huh huh.

    :::furiously makes a "Kate Winslet is my Venus" sign::::

    mm

    Wonder if the Venus is on PIO? Her giant boobs would indicate yes. Ooooh... also noticing that her left boob is bigger than her right. Just like me. Come to think of it, her body does look pretty familiar. Wait a minute!! Maybe I'm the goddess of fertility? Oh, right. Damn.

    pixi

    Yeah, what's going on with that lopsidedness? I mean, why would the sculptor do that on purpose - unless he was faithfully rendering a live model, I guess? I also wonder why she's got her arms draped over her chest like that. Kind of a strange position, don't you think? My only guess is that they're there to emphasize her curves. As if they needed emphasis.

    ManhattanAnne

    Pixi, my friend, do you have my blog on speed dial or what? Seriously, thank you so much for all your comments and for being so very present in the blogosphere.

    Love the 21st century Venus idea. Maybe we could just have a female figure with a babe in arms, no need to stress on how the babe got there...

    pixi

    You know, I was just reading Milenka's blog roll, and it told me you had a new post, so I popped on over. I wish that I had found some happier news, though. Still, I'm hoping there's a chance that things will work out for you.

    Lori

    As for a physical rendering of a modern day fertility goddess - I keep picturing my uber fertile best friend. Yeah, I know, lots of fodder for the shrink but who's got time.
    Seriously though, I'm not a fan of disproportionate sized body bits. I think we should take a "whole woman" type of approach. The heart and head must figure in since that's what drives the whole thing. Though I must say Sheela Na Gig's got it goin' on!! Okay, that's all I've got. Not a very creative type am I?

    fisher queen

    I'm not up for the idea of a new representation. It would be too limiting and exclusive, and so I'd never really believe it. Having said that, I really like Pru's Sheela Na Gig (Celtic? I'd never seen it) because it describes sexuality by incorporating physical and spiritual elements without referring to a certain body type (ie, a certain person, a certain moment in time). Even beyond the body issues, I really respond to its abstraction and soulfulness. I wish I could *feel* that way.

    I think it is completely unlike the Niki de Saint Phalle in that her 'venus' looks like the pinball machine of physical pleasure and fecundity. It's almost gluttonous. It's misogynistic in my opinion.

    Wow this is fun. Great topic.

    fisher queen

    Pixi, I'm sorry if I harshed on your Nanas...I got a little carried away. I can see why you would think they are celebrations, and they were probably meant to be. I just can't escape the county fair imagery-

    pixi

    Not to worry. I'd rather you feel free to share your thoughts, whatever they might be. I think it's great that art can prompt discussion about important ideas. And it's much more interesting to hear varying perspectives and responses. These comments (all of them) have really got the wheels spinning in my head. They make me want to go back and take a closer look at the pieces we've talked about. And I'm thinking about what I'd like to do artistically with some of the themes that have come up.

    I just adore passionate discussions about art. And you know, I used to be a high school art teacher, so I'm used to being told that my ideas are crap! No, but seriously, I love that you guys are willing to talk about this stuff with me.

    ovagirl

    it worries me she doesn't have a mouth. It's like she's silently suffering her pains of childbirth (which is fine if she's a scientologist I believe) I think about how much I love good food and how much I love to talk and express and mouth off about whatever. So can the updated Venus have a mouth? Cause every now and then she's gotta be able to let out a big scream and also now and then yell a big YAY!

    Pamplemousse

    I think that the male artist liked a Venus with no mouth as she would not be able to articulate her feelings. I am wholly in favour of the Sheela na gig. She would be a blogger, I bet!

    amy

    I think a modern day Venus would bear scars - possibly both external and internal. Don't we all carry scars with us? Also, I think she would be strong - not super-model skinny or angular, but also not too soft - more of a sculpted muscle under a good layer of fat (again like Kate Winslet). Most importatnly, she would be the one person who holds everything together when it is all falling apart - and I don't know how to represent that in an artistic way - I think it is something we just do.

    thalia

    I second (or fourth, maybe? I've lost count)the kate winslets but perhaps without the long blonde hair. I like ovagirl's suggestion of scars. I like the wry smile, the suggestion of a shout - of joy or of pain, it doesn't matter. But she is woman and we should be able to hear her roar.

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