Ruth Waldman's work deserves a second look and this leads to a third and then a fourth and an eventual examination of what at first glance might have appeared to be an overall delicate yet undemonstrative design. It is like the role of 'the new woman' - sexy, competent, knowledgeable, secure, multidimensional and far deeper than the saccharine colors the feminine aspect presents as a first impression. These are pieces that could hold there own in respectable circles for they are clothed with decorum and yet appeal to an aristocratic kinkiness, cultivated in the secret assignations where bondage, trusses and slings enhance pleasure and bring it into refinement. It is the realm of the Victorian lady, looking prim and pretty until the petticoats rise and all hell can break loose with a lascivious spill of imaginative cavorts.
Embroidery, needlework, and water coloring were once used to keep nervous female imaginations within a lady-like fold. Waldman's work is clear evidence of hours of patient execution in order to build her intricate coloured drawings but the powdery atmosphere defuses upon closer examination of her handicraft. The organic characters, feathery and pretty from a distance are involved in a series of complex relationships that have an unmistakable resemblance to sadomasochistic sexual practices. Like a visual kama sutra, the drawings depict the inventive multiple permutations and twisted interdependencies of a promiscuous bunch of freaky creatures.
The source and mastermind of the dynamics exercised upon the freaky fragile characters is revealed. They are manipulating each other. Waldman's disciplined, detailed and delicate touch is evidence enough of their origins, while their symbiosis is generated within their own company.
The wonder lies in the duality of both purpose and effect. As the discipline and talent of the finely crafted piece recedes into the awareness of close inspection, the strange fecund imagination of one of the 'gentler sex' leaves a fascinating possibility in its wake. Waldman's seemingly feminine perspicacious leanings are even more enticing when we examine her naughtiness.
Copyright © 2007, Julie Oakes