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Artist ID: 2314

Banality is another word for the invisible. Every day, we use common household items without realizing how much they reveal about ourselves. I build sculptures from these ordinary objects to unveil and then distort their hidden messages. Specifically, I investigate femininity and how encoded messages about femaleness both shape and conflict with my lived experience.
My mixed media sculptures playfully mutate recognizable materials into grotesque, bodily forms that range in scale from the size of a squirrel eating a cupcake to that of a linebacker in heels. Pockmarked pink dish sponges become moist, fleshy caverns. Prickly hair curlers marry copper scrubbies to form a strange flower. Bright white tampons and eggshell cosmetic sponges distend vulnerable, skin-like nylon pouches. Ceramic nipples protrude from bulbous forms that bear down on spindly legs painted in nail polish. Gold-painted ear plugs and eyelashes sag and sway on udders made from stockings.

I pull apart and reassemble everyday materials to reflect and then warp the feminine expectations embedded within the items. Transforming these items into unknown amalgamations of bodies and nature, I betray dominant gender norms. Tactile and visceral, these sculptures connect abstract social ideas of female identity to lived, sensorial experience. When engaging my sculptures, people discover familiar textures, colors or shapes that give clues about the original objects. I ask viewers to consider the overlooked messages within these items and our connection to them.

My sculptures create opportunities for viewers to envision new pussybilities of what it means to be feminine. In a culture plagued by racism, sexism, and prejudice, these sculptures help me navigate how my privilege impacts my own experience and the bodies and lives of other people.

Meg Stein is a visual artist based in Durham, NC, primarily working in sculpture and social practice. She has exhibited her work at VICTORI + MO, Garis & Hahn, the Nasher Museum of Art, A.I.R. Gallery, Westbeth Gallery, VA MOCA, Vox Populi, and the Spartanburg Museum of Art, among others. Stein has been an artist-in-residence at Yaddo, Millay Arts, The Hambidge Center, among others. She has received a Puffin Grant, the Garland Fellowship from the Hambidge Center, and the Ella Pratt Emerging Artist Grant. Stein was selected as the North Carolina Fellow for South Arts. More info at

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