I Made Space For a Good Man

Deborah Willis

Printed at the Brandywine Workshop and Archives in Philadelphia, this color lithograph features a film photography triptych of Deborah Willis (presumably late 1975 or early 1976). In two of the three self-portraits, Willis sits reclining in a wicker chair wearing a black dress, eyes closed or cast down. In the first image her hands hover over her belly and written above the image in white cursive reads “A woman taking space from” while below the image the phase continues “a good man.” This text pattern is repeated over the next two images. Around the second image, in which Willis gently holds the wrists of a dark-skinned individual outside of the frame whose hands are on Willis’ protruding belly, the phrase reads “‘You took space from a good man.’” In the third image, Willis reclines nude with her left leg crossed over her right leg and her arms wrapped around the back of her head, facing the camera directly and staring at the viewer. The phrase around the image reads “I made space for a good man.” In a 2010 interview with the Huffington Post about the piece, Dr. Willis said: “I was an undergraduate at Philadelphia College of Art and one of my professors said to me, "You're taking up a good man's space, you should not be in this program. All you're going to do is get married, get pregnant, have a baby and a good man could have been in your seat." I'll never forget that moment. I was so humiliated an embarrassed because this was a public event. And of course what happened? When I graduated, I got pregnant.[Laughs] I was embarrassed. I couldn't celebrate the fact that I was having a kid. Recently, my son found a contact sheet with photographs of my pregnant belly and he said mom, "You never printed these." I remembered this story. What I realized in terms of flipping the script, was that I made space for a good man, by having my son, who is a photographer. Flipping that into positive energy and still creating work.” Source: Martha St. Jean, “A Portrait of Deborah Willis,” The Huffington Post, April 6, 2010 https://www.huffpost.com/entry/images-a-portrait-of-debo_n_436196
Date of Birth
(b. 1948)
Lithograph, ed. 20/28
14 3/4 x 29 1/2 in. (37.465 x 74.93 cm.)
Accession #
Credit Line
Gift from the collection of Winston and Carolyn Lowe in honor of Brandywine founder, Allan L. Edmunds

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