Cult of Womanhood
02 Feb, 2022
"Growing up in a small town in rural Maine, my contact with others was limited. My sisters and I lived in a close-knit religious culture where sexuality was never mentioned. I was raised alongside three sisters. As children we created elaborate fantasy games and tried to find every Bible passage we could about powerful women and witches. The forbidden nature and the ritual of the occult fascinated us. Our household was staunchly Christian, I witnessed the demonization of sexuality and femininity in our church, yet I was surrounded by powerful feminine energy. Though she was Christian, my mother read us books about witches of all kinds. Baba Yaga was always my sister's favorites. I became obsessed with femininity, ritual, and the history New England had with witchcraft. For the last six years, I have made images that document different interpretations of femininity in my life. As a young woman I watched myself and my sisters go through the different stages of becoming women, in particular how girls changed from children to objects sexualized by older men. I create images about this transition into womanhood, examining strength but also the pressure to exist as a female. My photographs explore religion and the community I created with my sisters through portraiture, all being played out on the stage of a New England landscape. In our religious cult of womanhood there exists a theater of eternal youth and femininity. We are confrontational while on display, finding our escape from this repression in the forests and seascapes of Maine." TB.
Tabitha Barnard was born in Freedom, New Hampshire in 1994. She is a photographer who grew up in rural Maine with three sisters. Growing up in a very Christian female-dominated family has had a huge influence on her work. Barnard works primarily in digital color photography exploring themes of femininity and religion. She received her Bachelor of Fine Art from Maine College of Art in the Spring of 2016 and a Masters of Fine Art from Massachusetts College of Art in the Spring of 2021. She has worked in both commercial studio settings, as a shooting assistant, and as the media technician for the photo department at the Maine College of Art.