Originally written by Carina Kolodny and Amber Genuske for The Huffington Post. Published on May 18th, 2015.
From ancient history to the modern day, the clitoris has been discredited, dismissed and deleted — and women’s pleasure has often been left out of the conversation entirely. Now, an underground art movement led by artist Sophia Wallace is emerging across the globe to challenge the lies, question the myths and rewrite the rules around sex and the female body.
Sophia Wallace had no desire to make art about the clitoris. As a queer conceptual artist, she knew exactly how the art world — and the world in general — would react.
“I knew that if I took on this subject matter, I would be painting myself into a box,” she said in a recent interview in her Brooklyn studio. “So I stayed away from it — or at least, I tried to.”
But just as writers say their stories find them, it was the absence of the clitoris in popular culture that found and haunted Wallace.
Information about the clitoris could be found in select medical journals and in the upper echelons of academic institutions, but it was mostly inaccessible to the general public. While there was no shortage of artistic portrayals of the female body, the clitoris was nowhere to be found.
“It’s not that we don’t see the female body,” Wallace said. “It’s that we don’t know it.”
Wallace eventually decided that shining the spotlight on the clitoris was more important than any potential repercussions she might face. Once she decided to take on the work, she didn’t look back.
Soon, she’d created Cliteracy, an art project that fuses street art, textiles and typography with the goal of educating a largely “ilcliterate” culture.
Wallace wasn’t wrong about the backlash. Galleries canceled her upcoming shows. People threatened her art and her life.
But something else happened as well — something much less predictable and much more surprising. Individuals around the world took up Cliteracy as a rallying cry. From college campuses in the midwest to the spray-painted remnants of the Berlin Wall, the clitoris is popping up in unexpected places.
Wallace’s work has sparked a conversation. But this is not just a story about one woman or one project.
This is the overdue and under-told story of the clitoris.
You should definitely click over to The Huffington Post to see the rest of the amazing cliteracy project!