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Lydia Nobles at Spring Break Art Show


Lydia Nobles, Cat

By Stephen Gambello, October 16, 2023


In The Waiting Room, curated by Kourosh Mahboubian of Kapow Gallery, presents a visceral manifest of abortion in the sculptural shape of women's respective individual experiences. Nobles becomes an interpreter of the unspoken emotions women endure during this challenging decision. The whole waiting room becomes a nomenclature of the intimate transfiguration a woman goes through, as she experiences simultaneously: the prospect, possibility, or even just the mere wisp of an inference of conception, birth, and death -- all consolidated into a pulsating shape of biomorphic femininity ad realized by Nobles.


The pink walls of the mock reception desk and waiting room are patronizingly, artificially attempting to feminize the surroundings. But in reality, this is a space of finality, of antiseptic, and asexual medical procedures.


Adding to the atmosphere of this exhibit is a TV screen that is black, playing the recorded impressions of various women’s personal experiences in dealing with abortion. No images, just the power behind the words as we engage the sculptures visually.


There are three paintings in the reception area:  Waiting In Blue, Waiting In Yellow, and Waiting In Orange, and one in the waiting room, Waiting In Violet. These paintings seem to transfigure into symbolic, wistful windows that look out into the unstable, unpredictable, and unknown realm of life's possibilities and the critical choices that lead to them. This is the alternative, the landscape of emotions, consolidating into the light, dark chroma of a painting. These paintings, which could be imagined as wish fulfillment windows of potential (good or bad) are accesses to other consciousnesses by way of other ineffable languages.


Morgan is a sculpture that reflects upon the experience of a woman who chose to have an illegal, but safe, abortion in Jamaica. The tree-like shape is draped with silk and resin; this draping seems to develop into a biomorphic flower, a refreshing bloom into a better, clearer life for Morgan. It was worth the legal risk for her. She weighed which risk was greater to take:  obeying a repressive law and living a compromised life (hers and the potential baby's) -- or risking legal penalization in the interest of a free conscience and unimpaired life. 


Catherine - formerly known as Blair - was expecting twins. When one twin was not developing, she had a multifetal reduction. The highchair, covered by various materials, represents the unborn fetus, its potential life becoming "packed away", becoming absorbed into memory, and eventual non-existence. There is a gentle juxtaposition of extremes in this piece, where the sanctity of one life is ensured to be honored with the sacrifice of the unborn fetus.

Lydia Nobles, Catherine

Lydia Nobles, Lydia

Lydia Nobles, Velvette


Lydia Nobles, Waiting in Blue

Lydia Nobles, Morgan

Cat missed the deadline for an abortion, and was forced by state law to keep her pregnancy. After extreme postpartum hallucinations, Cat found the courage to surrender the baby for adoption. Unfortunately, this reflects the failure of strict laws to support the mother. Sometimes it is very difficult to make a resolved (and final) decision regarding abortion. This long slit surrounded by leaves at the base becomes a symbol of the vagina, temporarily grounded by patriarchal laws, which ultimately ascends to freedom. Giving up the baby for adoption was in the best interest of all involved.

DeZ'ah, already a mom, decided not to have a third child, as it would alter her life and other members of her family. These twin tower shapes seem to represent the two children DeZ'ah already had. The base has a maternal form to it, a mouth if you will. If we can accept this interpretation, then, we can see these two forms as upward aspiring "apples of mommy's eyes". These shapes of life are what matters to the mother, those in the here and now. They become the dignified extension, and, ultimately, the legacy of DeZ'ah.


Lydia was eight months sober when she found out about her pregnancy. For her, the abortion was the option that allowed her to best continue her sobriety. The Planned Parenthood standard issue chair becomes the abated space of Lydia's potential life, symbolically represented by a coiled latex tubing, tied down into knots. These materials may ultimately be unknotted and unrolled, allowing an unraveling into liberation. By way of abortion, the woman's fallopian tubes (symbolically presented here as tubing) are now cleared, and hopefully, in the future, Lydia may choose to have a child, ONLY if she chooses to.


Velvette was still in postpartum depression when she realized she was pregnant again. She needed an abortion to allow her to recover from the first pregnancy. This sculpture seems like a charred entity. But it doesn't represent the body (or potential life) of the aborted fetus, but, rather, the emotional life of the mother that was thrown into turmoil with her postpartum emotional hardship. The dark form of this sculpture, by way of the abortion, however a difficult decision, becomes the shape of termination, but the hole becomes a passage (or portal),  promising a transitional regeneration into a better life.


What we are seeing here is this: women, in the span of just a thought, become the bearers of the life cycle of the human being, intellectually shaping the literal landscape of the population through soulful assessment. Thus, Nobles' sculptures and paintings become the very living and potentially dying meditations on what it means to foster humanity:  and how intimate, personal, and even gentle it can be.


This exhibit is a very pro-living statement on the freedom every woman must have in order to live. Her Life, Her Choice. It becomes the maintenance of our humanity and our civilization as sentients.

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