Pins, felt, and cloth: performing Mormon feminism

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Publication Type thesis
School or College College of Fine Arts
Department Art & Art History
Author Rosenbury, Mary Margaret
Title Pins, felt, and cloth: performing Mormon feminism
Date 2014-05
Description The sculptural series Seer Bonnets (2009-present) by artist Angela Ellsworth addresses issues of gender, polygamy, and the historical recovery of Mormon pioneer artifacts and culture. Seer Bonnet X, XI, and XII in the collection of the Utah Museum of Fine Arts are positioned in this thesis as a case study to examine the visual, material, and referential qualities of the works. The three sunbonnets reference the 10th, 11th, and 12th wives of Joseph Smith: Patty Bartlett Sessions, Marinda Johnson Hyde, and Elizabeth Davis Durfee. Aesthetically and in their titles, the works imitate the design of historic nineteenth-century Mormon women's pioneer sunbonnets-which the sculptures mimic-while also referencing the material artifact the seer stone used exclusively by men in the Mormon faith. However, simultaneously, the bonnets operate distinctively as art objects mounted and displayed inside the museum for the purpose of viewing and admiring. Ellsworth's bonnet series blurs the lines between functionality and decoration, private and public, clothing and art, absence and presence, man and woman, and beauty and danger. The contrasts raise questions about what the bonnets represent as items pieced together from multiple sources and meanings. In this thesis, I consider the many allusions present in Ellsworth's work. A thorough examination of the recovered past coupled with and analysis of the production of the works inside the artists studio leads to the ultimate consideration of the works as objects that speak to the value and place of women. I argue that this work not only iv recovers an ambivalent past, but engages in a contemporary revision of the story that foreground women, even at the expense of further complicating history. Ellsworth obscures several divisions, especially gender, providing the women of her project access to historically male objects and positions. Rather than solely acting as objects of recovery, Ellsworth's sunbonnets use articles of the past as references for sculptures that refashion the representation of Mormon pioneer women in present-day conversations.
Type Text
Publisher University of Utah
Subject Mormon faith; Sunbonnets; Pioneer women
Dissertation Institution University of Utah
Dissertation Name Master of Arts
Language eng
Rights Management Copyright © Mary Margaret Rosenbury 2014
Format Medium application/pdf
Format Extent 215,709 Bytes
Identifier etd3/id/2891
ARK ark:/87278/s6186fp6
Setname ir_etd
Date Created 2014-05-28
Date Modified 2021-05-06
ID 196460
Reference URL