Pain Should Be Treated


Final copy of print


Vinyl cutout


Vinyl printing process

My print is centered around the idea of the normalization and disregarding of women’s pain, based upon my own experiences, the experiences of women close to me, and articles that I have encountered on the subject. While I am specifically drawing from pain related to the female-assigned reproductive system and my experiences in the medical system trying to get help, this normalization certainly extends beyond this one area of pain.

I began with creating my vinyl cut out where I used an x-acto knife to carve out my image of a woman lying on her side. I chose the shape of a woman in a fetal position as a sort of universal stature of pain, a position that most people have assumed in times of suffering - mental and physical. The amorphous shape around her contains her and could be representative of a pool of tears or blood or maybe mirror other bodily shapes, but it is completely up to interpretation.

I then chose my color: red. I chose red because it is a color of strength, but also the color of blood. Because our pain is often so diminished by others, we often feel the need to be stoic. While there can be power in that, it is still not enough. Red also carries an association of immediacy and often pain seems to demand immediate action.

Moving on to my text, I chose the words “Women’s pain should be treated normally” with the word “normally” crossed out. I thought that seeing the word “normally” would inform the reader of the normalization of pain so I wanted it to be included. Then the crossing out of the word allows for the sentence to be read completely differently and causes the reader to possibly read the text a few times. I chose the font Optima because it could be read clearly and looked modern. While this issue is certainly not a new one, I still wanted to ground it in the present.

While the general idea was mostly inspired by my own experience and those of women close to me, I was also inspired by other artists books I have come across. I, along with many other students in the class, chose books for our exhibit that dealt with women’s rights. I chose Anatomy of Insanity by Maureen Cummins which also deals with the medical system’s sexist notions of women’s health treatment, specifically mental health. So, I am somewhat drawing from a similar place as her work: frustration with a medical system that is still influenced by gendered views on medical issues.   

I wanted to keep my design and text simple, allowing for open interpretation based on the different perspectives of my classmates and other people who might encounter this work.

-Elizabeth Godbey, Pomona '19