Searching through art history and images in popular culture it is impossible to find historical role models which inspire art practice. Sharon Spencer is figurative realist sculptor and naturally drawn to old masters such as Rodin and Michelangelo. However, she cannot follow paths set here since they dictate women as sex objects or carers. There are no monuments which reflect the achievements of our mothers, our grandmothers and therefore role models for our daughters. Sharon’s artworks, both sculpture and photographic documentation examines, reverses and challenges the gendered hierarchy system in order to gain a space for the feminine.
Spencer wants to make monuments, symbols in public spaces which reflect the achievements of repressed groups. If we had symbols to reflect the historical achievements of women, would there still be the overpowering presence of the heroic man in our cities? The answer of course is no, since heroic can only exist in a hierarchy system which defines all other groups negatively. Now, if the gendered hierarchy system works on a binary definition of male and female, the underlying support structure here is the mother. The death drive gendered binary opposition has created the hero father/son rivalry whose support system is God.
Historically it is the mother’s death, not the fathers which determines the formation of city order. Since the heroic male has created a single path to creativity via the banishment of the mother from Western thought. Highlighting this system can theoretically weaken its structure. Symbolically then, she has recreated a version of Michelangelo’s The Pieta to create a space for the feminine. Her Pieta, placed in the Harris Museum & Art Gallery, Preston, not only challenges the historical content of the site but creates a space for the feminine. Spencer wants to create visible spaces for women and hopes the future of art will be strong, participatory, empowering, and inclusive.