I’ve been listening to 1985 punk rock and 1970s rock and roll recently while working on an art piece of mine called TWELVE. The intention was to jar the memory bank in that inexplicable way that music does, where songs take me back to specific circumstances and the emotions and colors that accompany them.The thing that has been bubbling up in my gut the most is that fleeting moment in time from girlhood when we are just about to understand our sensual power but have no idea how powerful it is. It’s a blip in our chronology and reacted to almost instantly to drive the course of the rest of our life that determines exactly what kind of women we will first become. It’s sticky and messy and innocent and uncomfortable and odd and exhilarating and electric and magnetic simultaneously.
It’s been a tricky subject in artwork as well. I recall writing a short story called Mercuromary for the literary magazine Wild Strawberries about ten years ago. The editor Utahna Faith, known for her gutsy and lusty prose, wrote me upon submission that she was compelled to publish the story because she knew the content in her heart but was afraid of what others would think upon reading it. In it, my young heroine fully seduces a young man at the river while their parents are all asleep at night. Utahna was worried about showing a young woman that aware of what she was doing and I argued that because I was a woman writing it, and not a man, that it would appear authentic. She wasn’t worried about the authenticity, she was worried about the awkward feelings it would bring up in adults because it’s hard for us to think of young girls alive with their own sexuality. She did publish it, thankfully. In art and writing this is a subject that is delicate and hard to portray well, a thin tightrope wire line of exploitation versus reality.
I wish more girls in their pubescent blossoming stages could be encouraged to mine this rich treasure field of ripe and burgeoning sexuality without feeling like they need to hide beneath the covers afraid of it, in the throes of stifling rather than embracing. It seems like this small essence in this small window of time in a girl’s life could be celebrated. Sometimes when I am at high falutin society lunches and galas, I wish I had a vial of this essence to sprinkle in the iced tea glasses of all the ladies, knowing that this special place is highly ignored after puberty but would become inherently invaluable if recognized and remembered.