Fiber Art

Meow Medusa

“Meow Medusa” 2019 © Oriana Gatta
“Meow Medusa” 2019 © Oriana Gatta

Tired of the same old cutesy kitty toys designed to reinforce the gendered assumption that girls should be made only of sugar and spice and everything nice?

Me, too.

So, I created Meow Medusa, one badass feminist feline who doesn’t bother with such oppressive binaries. The only thing petty about her is the center of her forehead, which must be stroked at least five times a day.

Tatanka the Bison

“Tatanka the Bison” 2018 © Oriana Gatta

This piece was commissioned by scholar,, Howard University professor, and friend Shawna M. Morgan. Based on research I did for this project, I learned that the difference between a bison and a buffalo is that bison are native to North America and parts of Europe, and buffalo are native to south Asia and Africa. Also, physically, bison have shoulder humps, and buffalo do not.

My ignorance, I think, results in no small part from pop culture references to the mythos of the American West that (mis)use buffalo imagery. Noteworthy examples include the line, “Where the buffalo roam,” from classic American western folk song “Home on the Range;” American Gods’s Buffalo Man, and the buffalo symbolism in Westworld season 2. Of course, as colonizer language, both “bison” and “buffalo” post-date indigenous terms like the Lakota word, “tatanka,” which literally means something like “he who owns us.”

Resistance is Fertile Iris

“Resistance is Fertile Iris” 2018 © Oriana Gatta

‘Well, then we had the irises, rising beautiful and cool on their tall stalks, like blown glass, like pastel water momentarily frozen in a splash, light blue, light mauve, and the darker ones, velvet and purple, black cat’s ears in the sun, indigo shadow, and the bleeding hearts, so female in shape it was a surprise they’ve not long since been rooted out. There is something subversive about this garden of Serena’s, a sense of buried things bursting upwards, wordlessly, into the light, as if to point, to say: Whatever is silenced will clamor to be heard, though silently.”
~ Margaret Atwood, from The Handmaid’s Tale

Revolution cannot survive on the weeding of justified anger alone. We also need to plant now what we want to see grow in our futures. Enter the Resistance is Fertile amigurumi plant series. The first of the series is the iris. Exemplified by Atwood, irises can be used as metaphors for silent subversion — their very existence a challenge to an oppressive paradigm of female powerlessness.

Needles in Stitches

“Needles in Stitches” 2018 © Oriana Gatta