Collection Artwork
Paula Wilson (born Chicago, Illinois, 1975)
In the Desert: Mooning
collagraph on muslin from two plates, handprinted collage on muslin and inkjet collage on silk on canvas and wood
Island Press at Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts, Washington University in St. Louis (St. Louis, Missouri, established 1978)
overall size: 69 1/2 x 43 3/4 in.
Tang purchase

Object Label

In the Desert: Mooning is a joyful work emblematic of Paula Wilson’s deep reverence for both nature and the female form. The rear end, with accentuated highlights that punningly resemble crescent moons, is a recurring motif in the artist’s work. The moon can be seen as a feminine symbol because of the association between moon cycles and menstrual cycles, as well as the duality between sun and moon as it relates to the duality between male and female. In Greek mythology, the sun (masculinity) rules the whole cosmos while the moon (femininity) rules the earth and its oceans. Here, the moon, reimagined as a rear end in the sky, imbues the print with erotic feminine power.

Although it stands vertically, the work resembles a rug upon a wooden floor. Wilson rejects a longstanding art-world notion that textile arts, historically associated with domestic “women’s work,” are not “high art”; she seeks to elevate and honor the labor- intensive rituals of rug making. Tucked into the desert landscape is a trio of picnickers, sitting upon a similar rug. Their attention is not on the rear end in the sky, but instead on one another. These individuals, like all of us, are unconsciously connected to the quiet labors of women just by existing on this earth. This work seemingly celebrates these labors and uplifts feminine creative power.
–Caroline Coxe ’20

From the exhibition: Lover Earth
Art and Ecosexuality (May 30 – August 23, 2020)

Ongoing Research

Research on our collection is ongoing. If you have resources you’d like to share, please contact Associate Curator Rebecca McNamara.

Learn more

Lover Earth
Art and Ecosexuality
Never Done: 100 Years of Women in Politics and Beyond
Pattern by Atlan Arceo-Witzl ’18
Inspired by the exhibition Other Side: Art, Object, Self
The Tang Pattern Project celebrates the Museum’s 20th anniversary. Organized by Head of Design Jean Tschanz-Egger, past and current Tang Design Interns created patterns inspired by the Museum’s exhibition and event history.