Friday, August 20, 2010

Queer Health - mixed media embroidery

this is the second piece that i had in the art show. i finished it the day that it had to be dropped off (i know, i know....), so i didn't get to post pictures of it earlier, and besides, i kinda felt like waiting until after the show to post it anyway.

i had mixed feelings about the piece going into the show, but the various reactions i received during the opening night party helped a lot. it just felt very simple, childlike almost. these aren't colours that i use regularly, but they were the colours needed to convey the message.


the original inspiration for this was the number of transguys in my life who i care about so very deeply, and worry about as much as i love them. our medical system is, in most cases, not set up in a way that male-identified people feel comfortable going for regular PAPs, exams, etc. it breaks my heart when i hear of another trans guy who has been diagnosed with a cancer that could have been prevented, or caught sooner.


about a week after i starting thinking about this piece, i ran across a really amazing campaign coming out of toronto - Check it Out Guys, so obviously there are others who feel that this is an issue that needs to be addressed.

so i started thinking about queer health in general, and the number of doctors who tell cisgendered women that if they're only sleeping with other cisgendered women, they don't need PAPs, which is complete bullshit, and i can't believe it's freaking 2010 and doctors are still so misinformed.


(and i know that the correct term is actually STIs, sexually transmitted infections, but i didn't know how many people outside of the sexual health field would be familiar with it, and i didn't think it would be as visible in the embroidery)

i really wanted to find a way to make the piece more inclusive, and so i spent a few weeks wandering around asking random questions of friends and acquaintances who were AMAB (assigned male at birth), which definitely got me some funny looks! i was curious about prostate exams, and prostate surgery, that sort of thing. everyone i talked to said that they'd never had a dr use a speculum for a prostate exam, and none of them were at an age when prostate surgeries are as common. i did a google search for anal speculum, but all of my results were for kink sites. and while a lot of stuff used in kink does have non-kink used, i wasn't sure if anal speculums were one of them!


i also asked trans women i knew if they required PAPs after bottom surgery, and was told no (though now, after doing more research, i realize that some trans women do need to get regular PAPs, depending on what kind of surgery they had)

since i wasn't able to do as many designs that focused on specific communities, or for that matter, on specific body parts, i did 3 more pieces in the pride rainbow colours.



i cut a piece of plywood for the base, and painted with with multiple coats of semi-gloss white paint.


then i marked where the speculums would touch the plywood and drilled a hole in the speculum and 2 in the plywood, so that the piece could be tied on with clear fishing line.


the speculums have a few dabs of clear glue in a few places where they rest against each other, just to add a bit more security.

and i left the bottom plain wood, with a few labels glued on.


so... what do you think? it was interesting watching people's reactions. some people immediately realized what the embroidery was done on, and got the meaning and appreciated it, but there were also people who seemed very embarrassed when they realized what they were!


Digital Misfit said...

I thought this was a brilliant project and fantastic art piece.
This has to be the most unusual surface that I have seen embroidered (and I have seen a piece of embroidered cheese!).

I know that I am guilty of neglecting to get PAPs, so I can imagine that it is not uncommon for transguys to avoid them either. My last PAP was in an exam room that was pink, with flowers and purple dressing gowns - not really transguy friendly.
We all need to take care of the parts we have whether original or altered.
I will phone my doc next week to get a referral to the gyno clinic.

lilacsigil said...

I've never seen a plastic speculum (they're metal here, at least in the area where I live) so it took me a few moments to work out what your embroidered sculpture was made from! It's a great idea and I love the rainbow stitches.

And yeah, ciswomen (or transmen) who only have sex with other ciswomen or transmen are at lower risk of cervical cancers, but that does not translate to NO risk in any way.

* said...

I think it is is good to spread the message about Pap Smears no matter how it is done as long as it is positive!

Good for you and the message.

Anonymous said...

I smiled when I saw those speculums. I wondered how you'd manage to turn them into something brilliant and you definitely did! Congrats on having your work at the art show. It's all amazing. rw

amy dame said...

thank you everyone!

i'm glad you all liked and "got" the pieces. it's been interesting seeing various people's responses!

lilacsgil, it's funny, i don't think i've ever seen a metal speculum in person... they've always been disposable plastic, unfortunately.

dm, does your dr not do your PAPs? that's interesting. if that's standard in ontario, it adds another level to the toronto awareness campaign i saw, i think people would feel safer with their own GP, rather than going to a (flowery and girly) unfamiliar clinic.

Related Posts with Thumbnails