Shields invited everyday women in her small Pennsylvania town to take anonymous selfies of their own vulvas, from which she created drawings exploring this most private part of a woman’s body. To find contributors, Shields relied on word-of-mouth, the way women have transmitted stories and information throughout the ages. Participants took selfies in the privacy of their own homes or at open house events in a photo booth Shields created out of a plastic storage shed.
A private group was set up on Facebook creating a safe space for members to share information about feminism, women’s health and sexuality. This group became known as Project “S”. As support and interest grew, one member created Project “S” tee shirts with proceeds going to a local non-profit benefiting women. A powerful development of this project has been the birth of a space for participants to speak of body image issues that surfaced as they took their selfies. In a time of vaginal contouring and aesthetic labiaplasty, Shields came to see her drawings as an affirmation that each vulva is beautiful and unique.
Her drawings are exhibited without fixative or protective framing, remaining as exposed as the women who volunteered to share their selfies.