Embroidery is always considered as a ‘womanly’ and ‘feminine’ craft. I taught myself embroidery at a young age out of interest, but as I grew up, I learned that they are part of a cultural and social expectation for women. Nevertheless, I never saw them as must-learn womanly skills. Using these media, I create tableaux that convey themes against the patriarchy’s social expectation for women, with the intention of stimulating a deeper exploration into who we are and what we can be as women.
In my embroidery and garments, I drew inspiration from a lot of stories about female warriors, classic themes of Thanatos and Eros, and chthonian powers of femaleness. Embroidery is an ideal option to express rebellion and redefinition in a soft and gentle way. Ironically, rendering intricate patterns is rather violent: Fabrics are pierced thousands of times to form new imagery. Embroidery is not only a housewifely craft; on the contrary, it’s a battle fought with a needle as a sword when it relates to the female gender in my work.
Societies seem to have bipolar images for women: We are either demonized or vilified, or expected to be totally submissive and benevolent. Feminine beauty is based on the transcendence of femaleness. A genuine feminine beauty can never be shown thoroughly unless it is free of the aesthetics derived from male chauvinistic perspectives and stereotypes.
On my way of striving to explore, redefine and externalize femininity and “femaleness”, I am also intrigued by the unique quality of porcelain: it’s extremely vulnerable and delicate while still hard and strong; it could break into pieces easily but cuts deeply when shattered. Combining the materiality and discipline in making art and using porcelain objects as wearable fashion pieces, I moved into a stage of “free interpretation symbolism”, believing that I should stay loyal to the creed that art should be an organic combination abundant with personal metaphors and symbols; art is about experiences rather than conversations; art is never expository but open-ended.
Aodan (born. Hohhot, China) is a visual artist who is more willing to call herself an ‘escapist’ and ‘art sharman’. She graduated from Oberlin College with a bachelor degree in visual arts and School of Art Institute of Chicago with a master degree in fashion, body and garment. Her works have been exhibited in multiple shows in the USA and included in magazines from Turkey, United Kingdom and Spain.
Aodan’s body of work delves into the complicated tableaux with aggressiveness, gentleness, fragility, softness, toughness, struggles, emotions and pain within femininity and female gender in delicate and cryptic looks. She digs into the neglected, unorthodox, forgotten and hidden parts in “Yin” out of love, desire and fear.