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Washrooms

Collection Series

The Women's Room

 

Cynthia Consentino

The Women's Room

2005 hand-painted porcelain tile and bathroom fixtures; 168 x 288 x 96 in.

Cynthia Consentino

The Women's Room (detail, west wing women's washroom)

2005 vitreous china and glaze
John Michael Kohler Arts Center Collection
 

Location: Atrium Women’s Room

Massachusetts artist Cynthia Consentino was selected to create the first new artist-designed washroom for the Arts Center since 1999. Consentino worked seven days a week from June through December of 2004 with the help of two interns, four volunteers, and numerous Kohler Co. associates. The Women’s Room opened to the public in June 2005. Loved at once for its buoyant colors and dazzling hand-painted imagery, The Women’s Room addresses issues of identity, reflecting the artist’s own affection and aversion towards what our society has defined as female.

Consentino created over 30 original sculptural reliefs of female body types, animal figures, objects and accessories, and plants. These were used to create molds from which Consentino cast hundreds of individual tiles that she then hand-painted. Consentino arranged the tiles in various combinations to create cohesive bodies—both recognizable female figures and fantastical forms. The figures, which can be read as “pure play,” also suggest the many roles of women in society, with references to fairy tales, myths, and cultural slang.

Other elements of the room include over 120 glaze paintings of hats and shoes, hand-painted sinks and toilets, and tiles lining the interior of the bathroom stalls. Painted in a colorful, light, and expressive manner, the stall areas depict a near categorical display of women’s undergarments and accessories including undergarments, stockings, hair combs, jewelry, and handbags. Both playful and exploratory, Consentino’s work reminds us of the plentitude from which we can choose to craft our identities—presented openly, lovingly, and inclusively.