Eleven works by Julia Wikswo
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From the Curator
HERS is pleased to present the work of Julia Wikswo in the inaugural exhibition in the HERS Gallery. No woman can be said to have consented to hysterectomy unless she was first fully informed of all the alternatives and all the consequences of the removal of the female organs. In HERS’ ongoing study, 99.7 percent of hysterectomized women reported that they were not informed of the adverse effects of the surgery.

As Julia said, for the most part these images speak for themselves, but we felt that some of the comments she made about these works might be helpful.

Regarding the first image, Julia said, “My blood waters [the doctor’s] new shrubbery while his kids watch.” Speaking of the doctor pictured here, she said, “He never came all the way into my [hospital] room [after the surgery]. He told me how cold it was outside and how his ten new shrubs were all freezing. He did this for ten days, and when the bill came he had charged $25 for each visit, which I found was the price of each of the ten boxwood shrubs.”

The second image is Julia’s response to a phone conversation with a friend whose husband had committed her to a psychiatric hospital a few weeks after being hysterectomized. “She called me from there, so I asked her how many other women were in there with her and how many of them were hysterectomized,” Julia said. “My friend said, ‘Oh, I'm sure there’s no connection, and I'm the only one.’ But I convinced her to go ask the other women. She did, and then she called back. ‘There are eleven of us in here, and ten have had hysterectomies,’ she said.”

Julia painted the fifth image after reading a quote from writer Mary Jean Irion:
“Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are. Let me learn from you, love you, savor you, bless you before you depart. Let me not pass you by in quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow. Let me hold you while I may, for it will not always be so. One day I shall dig my nails into the earth, or bury my face in the pillow, or stretch myself taut, or raise my hands to the sky, and want more than all the world your return.”

Of the seventh image, Julia said only, “Those damn rubber gloves.”

The eighth image in this series is a simple place setting, but upon closer inspection we see that Julia has provided many clues to why she was compelled to create this fascinating piece. Notice the name card (which conveys “unpunished” in Latin), the names of pharmaceutical drugs embossed on the napkin to the left, and a face looking up at us from the bottom of the glass of water, among other details.

Of the last image Julia asks, “Why do they take our healthy female organs away?”

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