The campaign has hosted a series of educational art workshops where women artistically represent their reproductive anatomy through sculpture and visual arts. These workshops create a space for women to learn about their reproductive body systems and have meaningful reflections on their relationships to this part of their body. The two workshops are titled: Endogenous Zones and Playful Vaginas.
a mixed media workshop by Saba Taj to educate the public on their inner reproductive anatomy
November 7, 2018 | 5-8PM | Rubenstein Art Center at Duke University
Endogenous Zones by Saba Taj – walked attendees through the experience of drawing the inner reproductive anatomy. Participants then interpreted their drawings with mixed-media materials based on the individual experiences and associations of the creator. This process taught many in the room basic anatomical parts and their function for the first time. For instance, at one moment during the workshop, someone asked, “don’t the ovaries attach to the uterine wall.” Several women in the room chimed in to say yes. Yet, a medical student in the room quickly corrected everyone, stating that the ovaries actually stay at the tip of the fallopian tubes, while other participants began discussing how their high school sex-ed class taught them incorrectly about where the ovaries are located during the typical menstrual cycle. This moment illuminates the value of offering a space in which women could reflect on and learn about their reproductive body parts, without feelings of shame or discomfort.
A sculpture workshop by Meg Stein to educate women about their outer reproductive anatomy
November 17, 2018 |Noon – 3PM | Rubenstein Art Center at Duke University
Playful Vaginas – was facilitated by local artist, Meg Stein. This powerful workshop first led attendees through an educational module on cervical cancer and the Callascope, given by Mercy. Then, Meg walked everyone through slides debunking popular “vaginal” myths. Afterward, Meg guided everyone through a mindfulness exercise where everyone closed their eyes and set a specific healing intention for the creative exercise to come. Given that participants were about to embark on a journey of sculpting their out reproductive anatomy, the mood was reflective and empowering, as women in the room started opening up about their associations, thoughts, and experiences (both painful and beautiful) with this sacred, but often silenced part of our bodies. At the end of the workshop, everyone in the room decided to share the specific meaning behind their interpretation of the outer reproductive anatomy. Libby Dotson, the current coordinator of the Calla Campaign and post-baccalaureate fellow in GWHT, reflected on her piece in this way, “My piece is wrapped in what looks like a pink wedding day veil with a ribbon wrapped around it like a wedding day gift. This is because I grew up in a very conservative part of North Carolina, where we were not allowed to talk about this part of bodies because it was meant to be reserved for marriage. The exercise made me really think about the effect of that stigma on my life.”
Two senior students admitted to at first being skeptical of sculpting their own outer reproductive anatomy, as it felt “uncomfortable” and like a part of the body that “should not be discussed so openly.” By the end of the exercise, however, as the group went around to share the deeper meanings and associations behind their unique sculptures, these two women stated that they had found the experience to be incredibly important for them to re-conceptualize their relationship with their own bodies and that through the process of sculpting their own vulvas they had learned to not be so afraid of talking about this part of the body. One girl ended by saying this was an empowering experience. When Meg first asked everyone to go around the circle and share the deeper meaning behind their pieces, the atmosphere in the room was tense with unwillingness. Yet, one by one, as each woman bravely stepped up to share a short anecdote about such a vulnerable part of their bodies, you could see the shift in energy throughout the room. Women clearly felt empowered by exploring their anatomy through this creative and safe outlet.