The Turkish Bath

My sculpture explores issues of gender in romance and in art and issues of craft and decoration.

The Turkish Bath (Le bain turc) was Jean-Auguste – Dominique Ingres foremost portrayal of the “harem” theme. This popular theme attracted painters in nineteenth century Europe for the opportunity it provided to depict female nudes in situations of captivity. Ingres’ painting is the inspiration for this body of work.

The mixed media objects I present here are hybrids of symbolic male and female representation: perforated and projecting, hard and soft, inside and outside. They are loaded to evoke all manner of “female” allusions by their small size and by the mult-layered use of such materials as flocking, feathers and fabric. The use of female imagery as form and content, and the use of the medium of clay, continue to be devalued by the art establishment, if not by the culture in broader terms. One of my intentions is to challenge the lingering modernist assumption that decoration and ornament, as feminine, are enemies of “high art”.

From statement by Phyllis Green for exhibition “The Turkish Bath” at Jan Baum Gallery, Los Angeles, 1994