An Empty Grace
Southern and Southern-Protestant culture promote behaviors of feminine passivity disguised as grace. They are often used as a silencing mechanism to the expression of the female experience as well as structures of control within Southern religious and social circles. We are taught the ways to be considered graceful within society, as well as the religious steps necessary to achieve God’s coveted grace, but are rarely presented with a concept of grace that is otherwise outwardly serving.
An Empty Grace was a site-specific work that featured the audio interviews of five women, Southern-born, sharing their ranging definitions and intimate experiences of living within a culture of a poorly defined grace. They are women with the weight of their marriages and divorces placed upon them despite unfaithful partners, women with physical ailments that have caused their grace and worth to be questioned, and many more. Their voices echo within the space of an empty chapel–supplemented only by life-sized photographic imagery representative of anonymity and the reduction of the female form in the name of this so-called “grace.”
The religious promotion of our original state as one of unworthiness found within a social environment that encourages female passivity produces a highly destructive experience for the Southern and Southern-religious woman. The two most impactful elements of the feminine experience within her own culture are contributing equally to the significant lessening of herself, and the combined weight is emptying and destructive.
We are not God, and our gracefulness has an end.