ABOUT

Breastival Vestibule is born out of my own personal experiences of womyn-only and queer-specific spaces and communities. My experiences as a member of the 500+ worker community at the 38-year-old Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival greatly affected my interest in my own practice of toplessness in public space. I find a specific dignity in engaging top-free amongst my communities in daily activities such as building, cooking, celebrating, and convening. I emerging from these temporary autonomous bubbles with a sense of freedom and personal power celebrated in the joy of going topless in public spaces, such as a local swimming hole or beach. Simultaneously, this joy is curbed by a powerful frustration as societal norms, government laws, and the threat of unsolicited sexualizing of my body bear down on my sense of personal liberation.

This project initiated from an exploration of  the practice of toplessness by women within and outside of mainstream society.  It evolves examining the practice of the unclothed body for people of a variety of bodies and gender identifications. 1970s feminisms gave birth to an explosion of utopian subcultures and practices. 40 years later, what does our current relationship to these movements have to show about our personal and cultural relationships to body? What does this articulate about sex and gender-based oppression and violence in the 21st Century? The projects attempts to engage with these topics through a collection of responses to questions posed in workshops, interviews, and questionnaires.

 In architecture, a vestibule is a space between the indoors and the outdoors. It connects the outside world with the inside, creating a transitional space. Vestibules often have religious or ceremonial significance, marking a point of departure from the mundane world. Breastival Vestibule is an installation of inflatable architecture exploring the process of “reentry”. It considers the effects of societal norms that live inside each of us, and practices of resistance to both real and presumed limitations.

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RACHAEL SHANNON

I am a self-identified native Texan queeirdo. My life adventures keep me oscillating between the roles of artist, organizer, teacher, participant, designer, business owner, project facilitator, and collaborator. My creative involvement is motivated by the belief that art has the capacity to bring us in closer communication with ourselves and, in turn, to more authentic and infinitely spiritually expanding experiences with one another.

My practice tends to explore craft, architecture, personal mythologies, queerness, and community connection through whatever means necessary. I have a passionate reverence for the practice of art in everyday life and persist daily at keeping the dream alive. I am currently living in Baltimore pursuing an MFA in Community Arts from the Maryland Institute College of Art.

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