Shona McAndrew, a 26-year-old artist who lives in Philadelphia, creates work that focuses on women's sexuality and gender. Perhaps most importantly, McAndrew tells Bustle that her artwork is a way to encourage women to actually enjoy themselves and their bodies. "There’s pride in acknowledging that we have a sexuality and that we have body parts that are taboo because they belong to a woman and blood comes out of our wherever," she tells Bustle.
All of McAndrew's sculptures — many of which have names, like "Norah" — depict women reconnecting with their bodies in an intimate way. Although they were initially created out of McAndrew's desires to understand women more, she tells me that they've taken a sort of political stance since Trump's rise. She says that she still thinks about his characterization of former Miss Universe Alicia Machado as "someone who likes to eat."
"There’s an irony in feeling so small when he’s talking about how big a woman can be," McAndrew says. But Trump's 2005 comments about how he can "grab [women] by the pussy" affected her the most, and ultimately inspired sculptures of women doing it themselves.
Also inspired by Henri Matisse's works in which women are sitting on chairs at being gazed at by men, McAndrew says her art, along with reclaiming the female anatomy from President Trump, led to her sculptures of women being looked at without being aware of it.
I don’t even know what 'ladylike' means, and I hope I never find out.
"That’s what Norah is doing — she’s not being ladylike because she doesn’t have to be ladylike. She’s just Norah, and Norah is badass," McAndrew says of the sculpture below. "She lives in New York, she’s comfortable in that chair, and I don’t really know what she’s thinking about, but it’s something that has her mind drifting off and when you drift off, you hold yourself. That’s what she’s doing: She’s grabbing herself."
Norah may be grabbing herself, but this work was clearly inspired by Trump's 2005 comments in which he bragged about making unwanted advances toward women. However, McAndrew tells Bustle that his comments have allowed women to have a conversation about what it means that a man thinks he can do that to women.
"Before Trump, I don’t know if I could have talked about pussies with my mother. I don’t know if I would’ve had the woman-balls to do that. But something about this now is connecting everyone," she says.
But even though Trump's campaign and eventual election have allowed McAndrew to openly talk about these things, she says she has suffered from a lifetime of people putting her down in ways similar to Trump's comments.
We spend so much time being taught that we’re in competition, because what we’re worth is what we look like.
After the election, McAndrew says she felt overwhelmed and scared when she finally accepted that Trump was president. "Having had a lifetime of these feelings pushing me down, I just didn’t want to do it one more time," she says. "But if we allow ourselves to be exactly what Trump says we are — small in comparison to him, with his big powers and his new job — then we’re not any better than what he says. We’re so much stronger than that."
And McAndrew's sculptures send a clear message about just how strong women are, as well as how we're in control of our own bodies. "We spend so much time being taught that we’re in competition, because what we’re worth is what we look like... I just feel like it’s so tiring," McAndrew says.
Although McAndrew says her work has been partially inspired by Trump's anti-feminist comments, she primarily wants it to send a message to women, by women. "I just want women to own up to their bodies and just to be themselves," she says.
But McAndrew says she does have one message for President Trump: "I don’t care what you think, because I’m so much more interested in what other women think and do."