artnet interview of ‘jane says’ by Sarah Cascone
"Ann Shelton's brightly colored photographs of exquisite floral arrangements, on view now at New York’s Denny Dimin Gallery, aren’t just beautiful—they also carry a hidden meaning.
Historically, all the flowers, herbs, seeds, and plants arranged in each vase have been used to treat various reproductive health issues. Shelton has chosen one fertility-linked plant for each photograph, and titled the works after stereotypical female archetypes—the vixen, the ingenue, the scarlet woman.
Centuries ago, midwives and other women passed down recipes for tonics and tinctures believed to help a woman manage her fertility. But knowledge of botanical abortifacients, Shelton says, was largely lost as the church sought to eradicate the tradition by equating the work of herbalists with witchcraft.
“This suppression of information,” Shelton told artnet News in an email, “can be seen as part of a long line of alienating acts for women centering around the female body—reaching from the medieval period through colonization and into medicine through the invention of hysteria and limited access to healthcare for women, and into present critical debates” in the US surrounding abortion."
Sarah Cascone, 2019