Rickie Solinger, an award-winning author, historian and curator, reexamines women’s history by positioning tools used in a domestic setting as the “fulcrum for a contemporary work of art.” She says, “The artists in this exhibit
place these old tools at the center of their own work: washboard, a dressmaker’s dummy, graters, doilies, an advice book, cooking pans, a basket, a garden hoe, dress patterns, a rolling pin, buckets, darning eggs, a work glove, a needle threader, rug beaters, ironing boards, mason jars and a telephone.”
The term “distaff” itself refers not only to the tool attached to a spinning wheel to hold unspun fibers, but over time, came to refer to women generally. Solinger points out, “Many of these old tools facilitated….repetitive labor and evoke the various cultural histories of women’s unpaid, often diminished and disrespected status within the household and society. But in the 21st century, at a moment when ‘old tools’ have become aestheticized and expensive, we can look again and see their costly beauty.”
Twenty-eight artists are represented in this show including Betye and Alison Saar, Lisa Alvarado, Dave Cole, Judy Hoyt, Larry Ruhl, Flo Oy Wong, Debra Priestly, to name a few.