The 'Maternal' Feminist: Exploring The Primal in Women's Art
Pamela Turton-Turner holds her doctorate with the University of Tasmania where she teaches art and design theory. She has taught general philosophy and lectured in various philosophies of feminism, philosophy and the body, art and design theory. Her doctoral thesis, 'The Code and Message of Naked Charity Calendars', is a semiotic interrogation of visual texts associated with contemporary naked charity fund-raisers. Her principal research interests involve post-structural theories, semiotics, feminist aesthetics, neo-psychoanalytic theories, contemporary feminist art practice, and a critique of post-feminist visual culture. Dr Turton-Turner is the author of The Role of Ridicule in Naked Charity Calendars;Womanpower? Analyzing Glamor and Violence in a Charity Calendar; Australian Art After World War 2. She is also a print artist with an interest in digital art and a studio in Tasmania's Central Highlands. Her art is influenced by feminist dada and surrealism.
This paper explores women's art that interrogates the logic intrinsic to a powerful concept of maternal caring evident in Marian iconography. While conventional portrayals of women in the history of art connote maternity as divine and mystical, women's art with a feminist sensibility reconfigures the mother figure as monstrous and forbidding. Through the use of visual semiotics and Kristevan psychoanalytic theories, I analyse how feminist art reconciles sacred and sadistic states for a more aggressive mother to emerge.