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The Congress Women in Artspace Aotearoa’s ‘When the Dust Settles’

September 2021

The Congress Woman, Peony (Paeonia sp.) is included in the second instalment of our fundraising project When the Dust Settles. The Congress Woman is one work in a trio titled The Three Sisters which itself is part of the overarching series jane says. Shelton’s series jane says depicts plants, herbs and flowers that have historically been used in herbal traditions for controlling reproductive health.On Shelton’s work, Tessa Laird states that “flowers hold secrets – symbolic languages which can be read like code by would-be lovers – but also chemical powers to heal, harm, or intoxicate. Shelton’s artfully gathered plants possess medicinal qualities and speak to herstories of other artful gathering, by herbalists, wise women, and witches.”The flower depicted in Shelton’s photograph is known as a Dinner Plate Peony, recalling Judy Chicago’s pioneering 1979 work The Dinner Party. The Congress Woman also makes reference to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other women of colour elected to the United States Congress in 2019. Laird summarises that “through Shelton’s rose-tinted lens, we see the many shades of feminism as complementary rather than antagonistic.”The Congress Woman has been generously donated by the artist and Two Rooms, towards When The Dust Settles, which will round off in a fundraising auction taking place 14 – 19 October.

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A Lover’s Herbal, 2021. Virtual exhibition view, Denny Dimin Gallery.
The Congress Woman, Peony (Paeonia sp.), 2020. Archival pigment print, 840 × 1120 mm print size, 890 × 1170 mm framed.