Caroline Federle

Caroline Federle is one of four photographers from our Through Rose Colored Lenses open call that was selected for an honoree article. Below you can read more about her series, Unsanctioned Splendor, and learn more about the photographer!

About the Artist:

Born in Columbus Indiana, Caroline Federle is a photographic artist whose work addresses female genitalia, sexuality, and expression in a region where it is not frequently discussed. Caroline is a recent graduate from Indiana University, completing a BFA in Photography and a Certificate in Journalism. Upon the completion of her BFA, Caroline’s thesis show titled Unsanctioned Splendor received recognition for its commentary addressing stigmas of the female body from the university and has been featured in Strange Fire Collective’s Call and Response: Art as Resistance and the Fuller Project’s Dreamscapes: A Light and Dark Interpretation. Caroline now resides in New York City and is currently interning in the Imaging and Visual Resources department at the Museum of Modern Art this fall.

Artist Statement:

Unsanctioned Splendor
At an early age women are made aware of society’s expectations of privacy and modesty regarding the body, especially its intimate anatomy. This awareness has resulted in uncommon and uncomfortable conversations about sexuality and female genitalia. To counter this, provocation, abstraction, and an underlying humor are used to bring to the surface stigmas often projected onto the vagina in order to create a space for discussion.

This work depicts the idea of female genitalia, not as a mystery, but rather a respected, significant facet of existence. Feminine fabrics and domestic objects are in contrast with the abrasive tools that demonstrate concerns of misogyny, genital mutilation, social constructs and the objectification of women throughout history. It aims to celebrate femininity openly, even in a culture that stigmatizes female sexuality and genitalia as too delicate or insignificant.


Below, Caroline answered a few more questions about her series and photography practice!


Why did you choose photography over other artistic mediums?

While pursuing my undergraduate degree, photography was a medium that allowed me to physically create my artistic visions and capture a particular moment in a studio setting.   

How did this series start for you creatively?

It started with me photographing dresses that I felt feminine in and arranging them to look vaginal. I then began collecting feminine fabrics and objects and combined them to create distinctive still lifes that made female anatomy approachable and revealed its unique qualities.

What reflections have you come to after finishing this series? If you are still working on the series, what revelations have come up while creating the series?

Working over the span of two years, I have developed a visual language to communicate my personal experience with the experiences of other women. I came to the realization that my work is liberating and creates an important dialogue for how our society approaches these topics.

Do you ever get in creative slumps? If you do, how do you get out of them?

Yes, but often times creative slumps have led me to my best work.

I think that getting feedback from other artists and colleagues is an invaluable resource that’s pushed my work further than I could see. Having someone else look at and be critical of an image gives me a different perspective that I can build off of. Being critiqued also gives me an opportunity to take a step back and approach a project from different angles. Another important lesson that helps me push through barriers is to not fear making mistakes or bad work because it could end up becoming the foundation for something fantastic.

Are there any books, movies, magazines or podcasts that you would recommend people to check out?

Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler, Through the Flower by Judy Chicago

Lastly, what artists are currently inspiring you?

Judy Chicago, Jo Ann Callis, Barbara Kruger, Omar Victor Diop, Nan Goldin

You can follow more of Caroline's work on her website and by following her on Instagram!