The inspiration and point of contact for this panel is Beverly's home page Beverly's page which is dedicated to her wife, is a celebration of their life. Beverly's response to the internet and to having her home page is explained in her comment:
"Traditionally, the web was male oriented in all ways. There were few women, and even fewer with personal web pages. This stems from many factors, including the society taught phobia women have of technology, as well as the fact that access and space was expensive and women rarely had jobs which would allow them to learn html design or any of the other technical aspects. However, in recent years, women have started popping up all over the net. Now women even have our own search engine! As internet access and space is dropping in price and becoming more accessable not to mention there are many ways that one can learn about html design now, more and more women are finding their places on the internet.
I believe that part of the internet craze among women is because women have been taught that their place is at home, taking care of the important stuff, behind the screen, behind their husband, behind their children. Feminism has made us all start wondering about why we are expected to lay the role of supporting actress and not the leading actor in life. I believe that personal homepages are a way for us to take the spotlight, to play the lead role in our lives. On homepages, we control what people see and read about us. We can share as much or as little about ourselves, our interests, our families, and our lives as we want. We have total control.
For me, my homepage is a highly personal project, which is also intended to be viewed by the general population. I have worked hard to create a home on the web which shows who I am, what I believe in, and the things that I feel strongly about. Creating a homepage designed to show all of those aspects of myself has been a highly personal learning experience into my own soul. I have learned a lot about myself in the search to show who I am to the rest of the world.
Webpages are an easy way to make a mark on the world. We can provide support for other women (and men), find others who believe in the same things that we do, and just proclaim to the world that we are here. Women are demanding to be seen and heard these days. We no longer accept the roles in the background. The internet is a wonderful place to start taking control of our lives. These are things that are carrying over into the real world. Women for far too long have been controlled by the men in their lives, which is only harming people of both genders. But, on-line, we can be who ever, whatever we want. We can play the role of devoted wife, proud mother, strong survivor, feminist, daughter, co-worker, friend, activist, or any other role we choose. A woman on-line isn't defined as "so-and-so' wife" or "so-and-so's mother" because people are forced to see her as she presents herself, as a complete person with many roles in life. It is much harder to look at a woman through blinders when viewing a homepage because you only see what she wants you to know. More and more, women are straying away from the pages which are nothing but pictures of their family. Now, women are creating pages which they show the world who they are as a whole person. This may or may not include family, a husband/wife, children, parents, siblings, or friends. Women now have the opportunity to show the world that we are all are all of those things, but we are also much more. We have other interests, other concerns, other feelings in life.
Women are also to lose a little control over our lives on the net. We can't control who visits our page, or what their responses are. This is a price(?) that we pay for being on-line. However, this provides valuable experiences in dealing with opposition that I hope will carry over into real life. Biting words never hurt as much when they come from a blank face out there somewhere, identified only by an email address as they do when they come from our friends and family. For me, dealing with negative responses to my homepage has been a wonderful learning tool. It has taught me to appreciate the wonderful responses that I get even more, as well as to realize that people's opinions on the things I do and believe in will vary. Many people don't agree with me...but that is ok. Whereas women are taught as little girls to please everyone, to be a "good girl" and "do what we are told", on-line we only have to please ourselves because anyone with a homepage quickly learns that you can't please everyone all the time and you'll only type your fingers to the bone trying without success. The best you can hope for is to please yourself.
Our lives, our homepages are OURS that can't be controlled by anyone else. If people don't like the way that we live, the way that we present ourselves on-line, they can just walk on down the street or surf on down the web. I hope that more women will learn this lesson and take into real life. Women shouldn't be expected to be the eternal peace maker, always giving in, giving up, giving away. Women should stand and fight for what we believe in, demand what we need, and realize that sometimes those fights will end in a draw...and there is nothing wrong with that. There is no blue print for humans. We are all different, and that diversity should be celebrated, not covered up with shame.
The internet is a wonderful place to taste that diversity, to experience for a few minutes what it's like to be another person, which is something we rarely get the experience to do in real life. By visiting other women's homepages, we can see what that woman feels, thinks, and does. We may not agree, but we learn to respect that those are her decisions, her rights, just as ours belong only to us. Tolerance is one of the most important lessons that we must learn on-line."
This is part of a body of work which is an exploration into how women are representing themselves on the World Wide Web, and the connection between 'home making' and 'home page'. Embroidery is a culturally-loaded textile art often associated with gender, the domestic, memory or nostalgia. I use stitchery to seduce and draw the viewer in. The desire to touch a textile and the need to connect with the work in a physical sense is a metaphor for the internet's promise of community.
To produce this image, screen shots from Beverly's Home Page were taken, then combined and manipulated in Photoshop. The image was then printed on cotton fabric using a Colour Style Writer 2400. To this print I added stitchery using various hand dyed threads of cotton, silk, and wool.
The exhibition "Playing False" was held in the Craft ACT Gallery, Canberra, Australia, between the 3rd of September 1997 and 21st September 1997.