Hannah Wilke used her art to transform perceptions of the vagina, the nude female form, and her own cancer-ridden body. Wilke’s first formal pieces in the 1960s were shapes folded like fortune cookies to represent vulvas, a form she repeated with terra cotta, lint, chewing gum, and other items, using the repetition of form to take some of the taboo out of female genitalia and the disposable materials to reclaim the negative as art. In 1974, she began her Starification series, photographing herself semi-nude and covered with vaginal-shaped pieces of chewing gum that appear like scars, and began teaching at the School for Visual Arts. In 1987, after she was diagnosed with lymphoma, she showed a series of abstract watercolors she had been painting on her face as B.C., before consciousness of her cancer. In 1991, she collaborated with her husband, Donald Goddard, on what she had hoped to call Cured but finally titled Intra-Venus, a series of photographs and mixed-media documenting her illness.
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "Hannah Wilke." (Viewed on December 21, 2014) <http://jwa.org/people/wilke-hannah>.