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Feminist Ships

By Megan Piontkowski
Rosendale, New York: Women's Studio Workshop, 2016. Edition of 50.

9.375 x 9.375"; 12 pages. Accordion structure. Silkscreen printed. Hardcovers. Signed and numbered by the artist.

WSW: "Feminist Ships, at its core, is a history lesson, celebrating the life and achievements of women on the water. On colorful pages mirroring the color palette of nautical signal flags, this book describes seven ships throughout history and the women who sailed them. The accordion bound book is cased in a navy blue hardcover which was lightly sanded to give the allusion of being touched by the salty air of the sea. The linework of each ship is a perfect blend of fine art and the artist’s own illustrative style."

Chelsea Campbell, Setting Sail with Megan Piontkowski's "Feminist Ships": "Feminist Ships, at its core, is a history lesson, celebrating the lives and achievements of women on the water. It begins chronologically, and fittingly, with an Inuit boat called the umiak nicknamed the 'women’s boat' because it was paddled by women to transport people and belongings. The book continues to move across centuries and around the world, including the ships of notorious female pirates like Grace O'Malley and Ching Shiih; Molly Kool, the first licensed female sea captain in North America; Sisters Under Sail, a sailing education program for young girls; and Women on Waves, an organization that provides abortions and women’s healthcare in international waters exempt from restrictive laws. The last page features the rowboat built by writer Julia Holmes who takes solo expeditions retracing an ancestor’s journey from New York to New Orleans.

”Intimate, handwritten notes on the book’s pages allude to sailors’ personal log books. The loose cursive describes the female sailors and the illustrations of their ships, from a sailboat to a Chinese junk, from a canoe to an Irish galley.

"Megan’s illustrative style renders her screen printed ships in flat, wiry line work on bright, colorful paper that extends the palette of her maritime signal flags. Every few pages, the color switches abruptly from charcoal, to intense blue, to stark white, to goldenrod, ending with a vivid red. These pages become a unified pictorial field as each boat’s bow or stern intrudes into another page. This implies an interconnected history which can be fully seen when the book is unfurled like a scroll. When completely laid out, the pages resemble a series of flags that belong hung amongst the sails of a ship, signaling new untold stories.

"The idea that sailing is the exclusive domain of thick-bearded, ruthless pirates and burly male sailors in white and blue uniforms is false. Megan’s book begins to scratch the surface of women’s rich history on the water, and invites readers to question where else our narratives might be lacking."

Feminist Ships

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