Janey Nye

Little girls are often told that they can be whatever they want when they grow up. Although the possibilities may be endless, they can come at a cost to one’s sense of who they are, what they are willing to sacrifice for their goals, or their happiness. Ideals of picture perfect women and societal roles can serve as a barrier for women, holding individuals back from jobs, healthcare, and equal participation in a society that they have made many sacrifices for.

Today, I am incredibly proud of my femininity, but that wasn’t always the case. I find that I still worry about the looming expectations around me far too frequently. Growing up in a time with media and the internet surrounding me, these expectations were placed on so many of my role models. Witnessing these events unfold day after day, I realized more about what strength it can take just to be as a woman. As much as sharing common experiences with other women can be comforting, it also leaves me with a heavy feeling of melancholy at the shame that seems to loom around femininity and gender expectations as a whole.

Over the past several months, I have spoken with many women, including my sisters and close friends, and discussed with them their experiences with femininity, both positive and negative. As I wrote and thought about both the heartache and joy of these stories, I realized many common threads running throughout. I heard so many experiences of low self esteem, comparison, ridicule, misogyny, assault, and shame. However, through it all, a resounding sense of strength, resilience, and empathy shone through. Many of these stories revolved around the growing pains that accompany coming of age as a young woman. In each piece, I considered what it meant to me, and these women, to be feminine. My use of flowers not only represents the intricate nature and beauty of being feminine, but each plant and flower holds unique symbology that I use to represent the stories and emotions of myself and others.

Each individual woman has an extraordinarily unique story. I found the best way to display the diverse landscape of womanhood was through the use of several different materials and techniques. The delicacy of flowers and paper echo the beauty of the sensitive nature of feminine experience. Each plant and flower is unique and natural, and displays both the individuality and commonality of the female experience.

It is with these techniques that I aim to create an understanding and appreciation of these experiences, and allow for other women to see themselves in each work.