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I often find myself overwhelmed when I look back at history and see the pattern of violence against women. It can feel as if this is the way that things will always be, but I don’t want to accept that. In the Church of My Girlhood is a body of work birthed from these feelings of powerlessness. Instead of shrinking back in fear, it aims to make and take up space and fight back against these systems in ways I wish I would choose more often in my own life. The pieces reflect on my own experiences as a woman while acknowledging that the subject matter, often relating to the unease accompanied by being perceived as an object, is shared by women and femme presenting people all over the world.
Through these works, I am addressing the history of female objectification in paintings. Many before me have played into or challenged the way the viewer looks upon the female subject. I am continuing the conversation. I control gaze in the works to create confrontation and to give the figure more agency in how it is viewed at times, as well as to convey vulnerability when that eye contact is dropped and the figure is in turn passively being viewed. There is discomfort and a question arises whether we should even be allowed to see the body in this intimate setting. All of the works teeter between empowerment and vulnerability. That tension is what I’m interested in expressing.
There is consistent messaging being shared, primarily from men, telling us that our nude bodies are shameful as a way of gaining control. For women especially there is a burden of blame put on our shoulders for distracting, misguiding, and tempting men into making poor decisions. That is the supposed power our naked bodies hold. While the shedding of clothes can be seen as metaphorically releasing oneself from this burden and empowering, the imagery of discarded clothes and that symbolic and physical barrier to one’s body being released can also create a sense of vulnerability that can be unsettling for the figure. The tension of opposition is presented in the works in this way.
The show’s title is borrowed from an excerpt in the book All About Love, by Bell Hooks. It implies that the lessons I’m learning and the questions I’m wrestling with have culminated to create a sacred space of learning and growing. There is a level of sanctity to these works and their content that I have not always honored, and as a whole the input of girls is not always valued. I am honoring them now. These pieces hold anger and sadness and awe for the strength of the collective female, as well as a desire to keep creating, so as to open the door for more conversations about what we can do differently in the future and to find sanctuary in relatability.
Danielle Mužina; Cintia Segovia, Jeanne Beaver; Mike Martin
The show consists of 9 works. It deals with themes surrounding gender, specifically the experiences of women and femmes who face the threat of violence and over-sexualization regularly. There are 3 large-scale paintings done in oil and acrylic, and 4 smaller figurative paintings, a one-minute video with audio, and a book made from embroidered underwear that hangs on a clothesline. The book has an accompanying handmade zine that is a starting point for period and reproductive health education.
I wanted the space to be open and confrontational. The audio from the video is a one-minute loop of harmonizing hums that can sound like a peaceful hymn or an eerie lull playing over you as you view the work. My goal was to create opportunities for people to talk about gender, nudity, bodies, and the spaces they occupy.
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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 International License.
Slucher, Daisy, "In The Church of My Girlhood" (2022). B.F.A. Practicum Exhibition (ART 498). 107.