Hi, I’m Mikel Ibarra (she, her, hers.)
I am a female artist exploring the paths between empowerment, acceptance, sexuality, and objectification. For Pies in the Window, desserts are my media of choice.
In life, I’ve traveled from artist to wife and mother to art teacher to baker and dessert decorator and finally back to myself as an artist. My art is a reflection and convergence of all my life experiences up to this very point in time.
I left teaching art to be a full-time mom after the birth of my fourth child. I’d always been a working mom. This change was profound and confusing. In fact, I felt lost and inadequate. Throwing myself into homemaking, I learned to bake from scratch. Of course, everything had to be perfect.
The pressures I put upon myself were endless. I was comparing myself to an ideal mom that, now, I’m certain, is imaginary.
Interestingly, the slow process of spending hours in the kitchen, seeking perfection in baking, awakened the visual artist in me. I felt inspired to create meaningful content and tackle my feelings about the proverbial woman’s place.
In Americana, the woman’s place has been “in the home” and the kitchen is the heart of the home. Families gather around the table for meals, fun, and in times of crisis. The image of the mother nurturing and feeding the family, wearing an apron and a loving smile, pervades our marketing and ideology of what it means to be an adult woman, an image as American as apple pie.
Then there’s the sex symbol. This is the one you don’t bring home to your apron-wearing mama. She oozes sex and horniness, splayed out on the hood of a car, tongue licking her lips with a come hither stare. A sweet little tart, she’s our cherry pie (tastes so good she’ll make a grown man cry.)
Raised to be good girls, seeing naughty girls command attention. We end up navigating the waters, never quite feeling like we’ve met all the expectations. Exhausted and jaded from our attempts, left with guilt and shame that we are not all things to all people.
Held by a standard of beauty defined by the entertainment and fashion industry, we hardly know how normal body looks.
I have long been fascinated with the roles of women throughout history and in popular culture. From goddess to pin-up girl, our roles are as diverse as our bodies.
When I came back to myself as an artist, the pie was waiting as the perfect symbol. My art work relies heavily on personal symbolism. I love dualities, double entendres, and seeing multiple sides to an issue.
This is where I began with this project of making vulva pies. Exploring the diversity of the vulva, acknowledging that this place of pleasure and portal of life, is a source of shame and fear for many of us. That we often spend our lives as women, serving others and denying ourselves, both physically and mentally.
I am inviting the viewer to see and claim the beauty and celebrate with me, without shame.