Some artists’ work is so real, pure and intense that they live and breathe their art. And then there’s London-based textile artist Eliza Bennett literally, who literally uses her body as her canvas to connect herself to her art. In her latest series, “A Woman’s Work is Never Done,” Bennett uses a needle and thread to sew intricate patterns onto the palms of her hands. The results are shocking, visceral and thought-provoking. (And more than a little painful-looking to the uninitiated. But more on that below.)
Bennett explains her work this way: “Using my own hand as a base material, I considered it a canvas upon which I stitched into the top layer of skin using thread to create the appearance of an incredibly work worn hand. By using the technique of embroidery, which is traditionally employed to represent femininity and applying it to the expression of its opposite, I hope to challenge the pre-conceived notion that ’women’s work’ is light and easy. Aiming to represent the effects of hard work arising from employment in low paid ’ancillary’ jobs, such as cleaning, caring and catering, all traditionally considered to be ’women’s work’.”
She first remembers trying this method under her desk during a home economics class in school, marveling at how easy it was to pass the needle under the top layers of her skin with just mild discomfort. “As with many childhood whims it passed and I hadn’t thought any more about it until quite recently when I decided to apply the process to my hand to make it appear calloused and work worn like that of a manual laborer,” she said. “Some viewers consider the piece to be a feminist protest. For me it’s about human value.”
Kind of makes your 9th grade doodles seem pretty lame now, doesn’t it?