Leah Mariani - 'I Am'

Wednesday 24 October  - Sunday 18 November 2018

As girls we are taught to smile and stay safe,
be courteous and kind, and don’t stay out late.
As women we learn that money rules the world,
our beauty is an asset and our bodies can be sold.
Our sexuality is power which can be taken away.
Beware of predators, glass ceilings and poisonous fruit.
Smile, stand tall, be proud, you are special.
But avoid speaking or eating; you must remain slight.
Stay calm, don’t complain, your emotions are petty,
Just get on with the job of being pretty.

I Am considers the unrealistic expectations of what a woman should be. Societal preconceptions on how women should look and behave are pervasive and it is through this critical lens that women often judge themselves. These beliefs subversively impact our every decision; from the clothes we wear, where we go and the careers we choose. The value system by which women are judged has ramifications for our self confidence, our power, our sexuality and identity. In this series, stereotypical feminine traits are set against a backdrop of patterned fabric. By incorporating mass produced fabrics that are normally used for clothing and homewares, the beautiful women painted here appear as decorative elements of society. You are shaped by how others see you. Without awareness, there is no change