A conversation with photographer Maggie West on her SlutWalk Installation
“Throughout history most women depicted in stained glass artwork are saints. The majority of these saints were virgins many, of whom suffered gruesome violent deaths rather than lose their purity.”
Maggie West, 32 year old photographer from Asheville, North Carolina, makes this point before revealing her plan for upcoming Slutwalk installation, 98.
Sunday, October 1st, will be the third annual Amber Rose SlutWalk in Los Angeles. Women of all sexual orientations, ethnicities, genders, and professions join together to bring awareness about sexual assault, slut shaming, gender inequality and much more.
We recently had the honor to chat with Maggie West before the big unveil of 98 takes place in Pershing Square this Sunday as part of Slutwalk’s festivities. The installation is said to be 6 feet wide,10 feet tall, and 50 feet long. The structure will resemble a stained glass ceiling and will feature 40 nude women--not the saints featured in stained glass artwork of the past.
West recognizes that femininity is no longer synonymous with purity and wants to juxtapose the old stained glass craft with a modern definition of what it means to be a woman.
“I think it is important to bring a diverse group of women and have them stand naked together in public,” West says when asked about the significance of this project. “These are all issues that so many women regardless of their background believe.”
The installation’s title, 98, was inspired by the Department Of Justice’s statistic that every 98 seconds an American is sexually assaulted. This installation joins Slutwalks protest against harassment, discrimination, and violence while also celebrating diversity.
Models featured are from all walks of life. From working models, to sex workers. From straight, to queer, to trans, and to everything in between--98 highlights uniqueness and supports the freedom to flaunt it.
When asking West what was most challenging about the project she told us that she shot “everyone for the series within a week and a half… like 40 women!” She laughed about this but clearly that couldn’t have been easy. That is nearly four photoshoots a day.
When selecting and editing the photos she did something out of the ordinary: West allowed the models to select their own photos.
“For me it was really important, in this series, that the models genuinely liked their photos.”
She wanted to emphasis that this series supported and uplifted women. So therefore it only made sense to make sure the models felt confident and beautiful in the images used.
West told us she is driven by something new for each project… But 98 is clearly driven by feminism, diversity, and equality… Things we most definitely need in America right now.
Written by Devin Hendricks