December 5

December 5

1943 –
crocheter  • weaver  • feminist  • multimedia/performance artist

Born in Paraguay in 1943, Faith Wilding emigrated to the US in 1961. In 1970 she became a teaching assistant to Judy Chicago in the Feminist Art Program at Cal State University, Fresno.

In 1972, she and many other artists took over an empty house and created an installation, Womanhouse, which focused on women’s experience. This ground-breaking installation included a room crafted by Wilding which she at first titled “crocheted environment” and later “Womb Room.”

The piece, which has since been recreated multiple times in museums, evokes architectural shapes and a comforting enclosure, all crafted by yarn and sisal rope. Wilding says she wanted to evoke a sense of house-making, home, safety – but all created out of a craft form identified with women (crochet). The space also evokes the nurturing interior of a womb. Whether a room or a womb, it can feel both comforting or confining.

Also included in the Womanhouse experience was Wilding’s performance piece called “Waiting” which entails a long list of “waiting fors” by women while they serve others and put off their own life’s fulfillment.

Wilding’s later, and more recent pieces, continue to use unexpected media while bringing attention to such issues as biotechnology’s impact on women, exploitation, rape, colonialism. In her artist’s Statement, she says:

I’m interested in the
possibilities of a radical art—
an art which uses beauty as
a terrorist tactic,
rather than an end in itself.”

Faith Wilding

Links for Further Exploration

Invitation to Creativity

As crafters, we tend to want to make things to comfort: items that are decorative or cozy. “Cozies” are knitted or crocheted coverings of everyday objects (think: teapot or coffee cup cozy, or toilet paper covering).

Wilding’s artistic intentions are not rooted in a desire to soothe, please, or beautify, but rather to challenge or “terrorize” the viewer into action.

If you were going to craft a “cozy” that covered an everyday object but also challenged the user of that object in some meaningful way… what would the object be? And what would the cozy look like? Draw or write about your ideas in your journal. If willing, share on the blog!

Check out cozies (knit and crochet) on Ravelry. They have lots of categories, including “mature content.”

greyscale pixelated photograph of young woman in black and white patterned sweater, grey pants, and shoes sitting on a black floor. Surrounding her and rising up on all sides is a white crocheted structure of squares, many with large circles and web-like shapes.
Faith Wilding, Womb Room, 1972,
part of WomanHouse