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 terra cotta sculptures folded to represent vulvas, a form she repeated with ceramic, 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 Object 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 began a body of work she intended to call Cured but finally titled Intra-Venus, a series of photographs, videotapes, and drawings documenting her illness.
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "Hannah Wilke." (Viewed on March 24, 2019) <https://jwa.org/people/wilke-hannah>.