About the Exhibition
Rhonda Roland Shearer’s Woman’s Work sculptures are situated in close proximity to the 18th-century equestrian statue of George Washington. In this ironic juxtaposition, women virtually surround the Father of Our Country with images of traditional female activities. Titles such as Kiki a la Toilette, Yves’s Wife with Baby, Nina Vacuuming, and Virginia with Two Children explain the actions of each sculpture. Fabricated in bronze and finished in brightly colored patinas, these monumental works, placed on undulating bases, vary in height from ten to fifteen feet.
When asked whether her works would be misunderstood, Shearer (b.1954, Aurora, IL) responded, “I think people will get the point: ‘Hey George, get off your high horse and help with the dishes.’ It’s this type of thing. It’s something that everyone will relate to in some way.”
In a statement describing her Woman’s Work series, Shearer explains, “I have a career but…I am still the one who picks up the dirty socks...Through these sculptures I was able to face a painful reality, that women are still subjugated by socially assigned roles and characteristics with limited freedom and choices. Monuments are typically masculine and images of power—when they are feminine, they represent allegorical or romantic ideals. I discovered that when “real women” were monumentalized doing “woman’s work” a surprising dignity was communicated despite the devaluation of these activities by society.”
Commenting on Woman’s Work, Public Art Fund President Susan K. Freedman says, “It is fitting that this exhibition commences in March—Women’s History Month. In a city that has a paucity of public monuments of women, these eight sculptures commemorate women’s least celebrated role as homemaker and mother. They are a tribute to the invisible, heroic deeds women accomplish daily, often before or after their “real” work. Shearer’s sculptures are powerful and beautiful, with a rich organic component reminding us of the more traditional images of women in art—in mythic, natural and romantic settings.”