Women's and Gender Studies Program
Graduating seniors Carmen Andersen (BGS Women's Studies) and Bran Goswick (Psychology, Sociology, and Women's Studies) smile for the camera
Dr. Susan Maher (English and Women's Studies) purchases Pamela Carter Joem's art project, "A Room of One's Own" at the 2006 Downtown Omaha Literature Festival Silent Action and donated it to the UNO Women's and Gender Studies Program. She intends it to be a living work of art, always in the process of undergoing yet another transformation. It is on the website to pique your curiosity. You are invited to stop by the Women's Studies Library in AS 311 to see, handle, and deface the work yourself per Sue's final paragraph.
As each reader picks up Pamela Carter Joern’s personal interpretation of A Room of One’s Own, I hope that she or he will write down the thoughts and inspirations received from handling this defaced text. I offer my own reading of it. Any good work of defaced art, however, should suggest many more readings. Please insert your own “defacement” into this text, a slip of paper, a photograph, or a sketch that imbeds your “presence of realty” so that this donated book becomes a living contribution to the UNO Women’s Studies program.
Pamela Carter Joern
Pamela Carter Joern’s defacement of Virginia Woolf’s classic feminist text actually enhances the work’s argument: find a room of one’s own and expand as a creative thinker and artist, pushing the envelope of society’s definition of womanhood and expressing one’s own personal perspective on the political. Carter Joern interjects photographic moments of her own life, underscoring Woolf’s own celebration of the small details that add up to an inventive, meaningful life. Woolf treasured illuminating moments of time, and Carter Joern captures her wok in a garden, her artistry as a quilter, her savoring of tea, and her love of reading. Even cleaning the toilet, usually an erased moment of drudgery, makes its appearance among the many events that capture the artist’s physical, intellectual, and spiritual activities. Hands star in each photograph. Carter Joern’s hands are busy, playful, healing, cleansing, and creative. Life itself, the body, becomes a kind of room that houses the mind and soul.
Carter Joern’s defacement would earn Woolf’s praise. For Carter Joern, A Room of One’s Own is a springboard to self-discovery. Woolf meant her readership to find stirring inspiration in her words. As Woolf explains at her essay’s end, “I am asking you to live in the presence of reality, an invigorating life…I should implore you to remember your responsibilities, to be higher, more spiritual; I should remind you how much depends upon you, and what an influence you can exert upon the future.” Carter Joern has remembered, and her photographs, dog-eared pages, and yellow highlighting insert her own guiding posts into Woolf’s eloquent argument.