Melissa Meade & Liza Brenner

Oven (Medusa Project)

by Melissa Meade & Liza Brenner

An oven is an appliance, usually found in the kitchen. It is enclosed and warm, usually hot, its temperature closely controlled and monitored. Outside its looks can deceive, and it might seem safe. But inside it is dangerous to the touch, requiring specialized equipment to poke around. And once inside, things are transformed. The oven cooks, roasts, bakes, broils, grills, caramelizes, air fries, heats. It accepts things in one form, transforms them into another. Usually these transformations are predictable, but not always. Usually these things in the oven are edible, but they certainly don’t have to be. Monstrous combinations may turn elegant, and simplicity turned monstrous. The oven is ancient and life-creating; it’s a tool, a death-drive.

When we call someone a woman, and when we call this woman, or any of her orifices, an oven, we assume there are control knobs somewhere. That we can make her hotter, turn her on, or turn her off. This is wrong.

Melissa Meade, Oven (Medusa Project), 2022.
Oven by Liza Brenner
Liza Brenner, Oven (Medusa Project), 2022. Oil on panel. 24 x 24 in. Courtesy of the artist. Click on image for detail.

“The Medusa Project is a collaborative series of paintings and mini-essays, composed and written by Liza Brenner and Melissa Meade, respectively. Informed by intersectional feminist history, material culture, and the interplay between form and narrative, each set represents one word archetype or slang for women. Gendered slang words and expressions, such as “oven,” can work against reproductive justice by positioning female-presenting people as non-human.”

To view more of the Medusa Project, visit:

Melissa Meade

Melissa Meade, PhD, (she/her) is Dean of Arts and Humanities at South Puget Sound Community College in Olympia, WA. She thinks, teaches, and writes in the areas of communication, media, psychoanalysis, and feminist studies.

Medusa Project:

Liza Brenner (she/her) received a BFA in Drawing and a BS in Communication from Clarion University of Pennsylvania. She completed a MFA in Painting and a MA in Art Education from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. While completing her MFA, she studied abroad at The British Institute of Florence in Florence, Italy.

For eight years, Liza worked as an Assistant/Associate Professor of Art at Glenville State College in Glenville West Virginia. During her tenure she was the Fine Arts Gallery Director and curated exhibitions from regional and national artists. She developed and implemented the Bachelor’s of Arts Degree for the Art Program. Also while at Glenville, she studied plein air painting under Painting Professor Emeritus Bill White of Hollins University in Umbria, Italy and the South of France. 

Liza Brenner relocated to the West Coast and continues to exhibit her work at the regional and national level.  She recently received a purchase award from the Office of Arts and Culture in Seattle, Washington and has exhibited her works in museums such as the Monmouth Museum in New Jersey, The Huntington Museum in West Virginia and The Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Other recent invitational exhibitions include The Crary Gallery in Warren, Pennsylvania; Childhood End Gallery, Allsort’s Gallery in Olympia, Washington; and the Jesse Best Gallery in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Liza currently is an Assistant Professor of Art at South Puget Sound Community College and resides in Olympia, WA.


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