In Grace and Frankie Season 3, the marketing for the duo’s new vibrator featured a vulva painting. This might have been played for laughs on the show, but in real life, it’s the kind of painting Austin artist Charlotte Criste does—with a quite serious effect on women who participate.
Criste’s art is called “Yoni Expressions”: the word “yoni” means female sexual and reproductive organs in Sanskrit. Criste facilitates the creation of paint and paper impressions of individual vulvas, a live process that empowers through a bold letting-go, given that many women were raised to feel a sense of shame about their vagina’s appearance.
Criste began this practice in 1998. She was 50 then and is 70 now—and she ain’t stopping! Inspired by Annie Sprinkle, who revolutionized erotic dance in the ‘70s by painting her boobs and doing “tit prints” on stage (she’s now a PhD sexologist), Criste did the same with friends but found they all looked like eyeballs. She experimented with non-toxic paint on vulvas instead and found, much to everyone’s delight, the emergence of images of angels, roses, valentines, and even an octopus!
More Than Art
Her work recently decorated the walls of Genuine Joe Coffeehouse in Austin, TX, but Criste wants to achieve more than just a decorative effect with her work. She calls it a form of worship and is continually in awe of what she describes as the “breathtaking beauty of each unique vulva” and is amazed at the variety. “Everyone is so different,” she says, adding, “and then there’s the magical way the prints dry to reveal subtle details.”
Criste’s therapist pal has sent her clients for vulva portraits to help increase their self-esteem.
For women Aging Boldly, creating one of these prints with Criste is a chance to confront their own undeniable beauty. In fact, Criste’s therapist pal has sent her clients for vulva portraits to help increase their self-esteem. Says Criste, “We guarantee a gorgeous print to hang on your wall that you can look at each day and say, ‘Yes, my yoni is beautiful.’ What a mantra!”