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Hot Pants for a Large Wall


mixed Media, 68 x 68 inches total, each panel 12 x 12 inches

Even today, one of the easiest ways to devalue or discredit a woman is to call her virtue into question. That is what inspired the piece Hot Pants for a Large Wall. From Bathsheba’s labeling as a temptress in the second book of Samuel; to Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, and more recently the decades-long shaming of Monica Lewinsky - the pattern of slut shaming repeats itself time and again in both fiction and real life. Ellsworth Kelley's Colors for a Large Wall is the inspiration for this multi-panel work. Since I had intended to mimic his color scheme and pattern, I gessoed a few of the pants before applying the color, but I decided that they were much stronger in white since being white and flat is regarded as a symbol of modesty in society. The more restrictive the religion or culture, the more it reduces the individuality of women into something flat and unrecognizable.

How women dress and how others perceive them is subjective. Who decides what is promiscuous? Whose standards do we use? “She dressed promiscuously” or “she asked for it” is often used as justification for sexual violence - the idea that women are responsible for any danger faced because of their choices in attire (Awasthi). That said, these panels are not specifically about sexual violence, but the more widespread perceptions of virtue and the subjective nature of defining promiscuity.

Similar to Judy Chicago's The Dinner Party, which features important women from history, each panel in my piece represents a literary character whose virtue has

been called into question (see fig. 37). I hope viewers will examine each piece - some designed to promote modesty and some that would fall into the definition of promiscuous in various corners of society - and realize how subjective these kinds of judgments are and that the women who might be wearing them are much more complex than what is on the surface. Panel number 19 “Laura Danker” (Blume) is a self-portrait based on a slut shaming experience I had in the seventh grade - the day I learned the definition of the word “slut.”


© Melanee Hamilton

ᐊ click photo for larger images

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