Domestic Bliss transforms objects associated with domestic labor, traditionally the purview of women, and supplants their original purpose and highlights obstacles, which impede the quest for gender equality. The innovative artist, Holly Ballard Martz, spent weeks painstakingly bending 200 hundred wire coat hangers into the likeness of the female reproductive system, an exercise in endurance for her hands and a representation of the slow and painful trudge towards full reproductive rights for women in America. She layered and stacked men’s detachable shirt collars as stand-ins for institutionalized sexism. Thousands of sequins have been affixed to forms typically used in the construction and pressing of garments, morphing them into glittering body parts and cuts of meat, as women’s bodies are often reduced to decoration and objects of desire. She says, “ I deliberately chose to work with materials and processes long considered the female domain as a reminder that with every prick of the pin and curve of the wire, women’s work is truly never done.”

Danger of Nostalgia

She wants the beauty of the art to lure you into taking a closer look. When studied, the viewer sees a different, more serious meaning to take away. Upon inspection one sees that these are female reproductive organs. She believes some people romanticize the past and she gives a nod to that with the slight reference to William Morris wallpaper patterns.  But, the coat hangers’ other association with the female organs reminds one that nostalgia may blind us to the realities of the past.  In Bust, Amy Pleasant writes, “By installing her piece in the style of ornate wallpaper, Martz manipulates the symbol of self-induced abortions into something fit to adorn even the most elegant dining room, thus hiding a taboo in plain sight.”

Ensnared is made of retractable clothes lines in the laundry theme and speaks to the fact that many women get caught up in a notion of an elevated ideal of women and then feel ensnared by its limitations. 

 

The artist takes found objects that have meaning for her and plays with them until inspired.  The Women’s Work Is Never Done piece is made of an inflatable hangar that looked to her like underwear.  By beading it she turned it into something beautiful and dangerous.  Because it is beautiful, you are attracted to it and are willing to spend time studying it. Holly believes that if it looked like what it really is or means, visitors would not engage with the art. 

 

Holly finds working with these myriad small pieces like beads and sequins to be akin a dressmaker’s work and to be a meditative process.

Status Quo

8.25” x 17.5”

Men's detachable shirt collars,

aluminum tape

Old Growth

10.5” x 9” x 2.25"

Men's detachable shirt collars

and polyester resin

Power Grid

16” x 16”

Men's detachable shirt collars

Double Crossed

Since Birth

14” x 14.25”

Men's detachable shirt collars

Danger of Nostalgia in

Wallpaper Form

(in utero)

Dimensions variable

Powdered coated steel, brass

nails

Lady Madonna

72" x 16" x 1.25"

Powdered coated ironing board,

brass plated metal rings, LED

Objects in the Mirror

are Closer than they

Appear (sexist)

18.5" x 14" x 6"

X-ray viewer, two-way mirror,

acrylic, vinyl

Ensnared

Dimensions variable

Retractable clotheslines and

mixed media

Love Hurts

(love you to death)

30" x 40"

Spent bullet primers and

encaustic on panel

LOVE HURTS (love you to death) is made up of 6000 bullet primers, the explosive substance that ignites when struck to detonate the powder in a cartridge. The piece is pretty, pink and looks like a valentine, alluring until the viewer realizes that the art consists of 6000 primers.  A primer propels a shell like thoughts and emotions propel human actions. The underlying message is one about gun violence and intimate partner violence.  Her mother’s hobby was dressmaking, and Holly honors this by using fabric, clothing and laundry optics to make art. 

A Women's Work is

Never Done

(gilded age)

11" x 19" x 2.5"

Inflatable hanger, glass seed

beads, thread, polyfill

Prime Cuts

Dimensions variable

Dressmakers' hams, steel

pins, sequins, glass beads

Prime Cuts is inspired by the notion of women as decorative objects objectified by men or treat them like objects designed for their desire only.

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