Ok, this is an exhilarating one! I’ve heard murmurings of the traveling art project Genital Electric for the past few months, and at a wedding on a farm in rural Maine in October, and I just so happened to find out that the videographers are the creators of this well-traveled masterpiece. Alice B. Wilder, the creator of the project, along with her partner, Forest Wilder, both use a pseudonym for this body of work because of the private nature of the game, so I’m going to refer to them by those names.
Ok first, I know you… but please introduce yourself!
Thank you for thinking of me and this project; it is an absolute pleasure to do this with you. Here’s some background info to start: I have an artist name I’m using for this project, which is Alice B. Wilder, and my partner goes by Forest Wilder. This is for some privacy and separation from our personal lives due to the intimate nature of the project.
This is my project, and Forest is a huge part of it. I couldn’t do it without him, from helping me plan the tour, updating my website, editing vlogs and documenting the process and the journey, while also being an amazing partner in life, and love, and emotional support. He is my biggest supporter. We’ve always been a great team whether we’re working together, building businesses together, traveling around the world together, and living together.
I had the pleasure of meeting you at a wedding where you were doing videography, and immediately loved your welcoming personality and artistic vibe. When I found out you were the creator of Genital Electric (which I had heard of before), I was enamored! First off, can you tell me about your project, and how it got started?
I started this project in the spring of 2020, as I embarked on my own journey of genital self exploration. I had recently had my birth control implant removed from my arm, and after ten years of being on some form of hormonal birth control I needed to figure out who I really was. It took some time to adjust to the change in hormones, and it felt like I was going through puberty again, especially when my period came back and my cycle went through major fluctuations. I had no idea how to describe the intense feelings and I knew I had to educate myself on what being a woman entailed for me.
I was feeling so lost in understanding my own body and its changes, when a friend suggested that I read Come As You Are, a book by Emily Nagoski. I was about to turn 30 and had never looked at my vulva in the mirror, I literally could not have told you what it even looked like. I didn’t want to know.
When I finally started learning about my vulva, and really looked at it in the mirror for the first time, I was inspired. I had my partner help me take pictures of it every day because I wanted to know how it changed, how it looked at different times of the day and different times of the month. I became so curious. Then I started painting it. After a few paintings I asked myself, how would my vulva look if it was all lit up in neon light, with all that excited gas, inside those sexy glass tubes?
So, using a photograph as reference, I created the first digital self portrait of my vulva, and turned it into digital neon. There was something about how the contour lines glowed, and my pussy came to life. When I showed my digital neon pussy to a few friends, they loved it, and asked if I could possibly create one for them? I was thrilled, and said, “Yes! Just send me a picture!”
I received the first few photos, and I was shocked, they looked completely different from mine! That’s when I remembered something Emily had written, “We’re all made of the same parts as everyone else, organized in a unique way. No two alike.” I started creating portraits for friends, and then their friends started reaching out too. It was the stories that came back to me about how rewarding of an experience the other women were having on their side of the computer screen that inspired me to keep going.
One friend messaged me after spending hours taking pictures with her boyfriend for her portrait, and said that through the process she got to know herself in a different way that she thought was beautiful. She thanked me for doing this, and told me I was “doing great work.” I was moved.
I realised then that this project was bigger than me and I needed to share the stories of other women, so I started The Electric Diary on my website to create a space for others to share stories about their journeys of self exploration.
In January 2021, I found a neon fabricator to help me create the first piece in actual neon, and by July my partner and I were working on the logistics of taking this 4 ft tall neon vulva on a 6000 mile road trip across the country and setting it up for the public.
My current goal is to develop a larger collection of vulvas in neon and exhibit them around the world, and to contribute to a global conversation about body shame and pleasure.
What has the response to your project been?
The main opposition to my project has come in the form of social media censorship. My original instagram account was deleted, and I’ve struggled to grow my accounts despite a background in social media marketing. Several of my tiktoks have been taken down or muted.
I realized that in today’s world of algorithmic censorship, I couldn’t rely on social media alone to help me get the message out. That’s when I decided that I needed to take this neon vulva directly to the public. Since then, the response has been incredible, and overwhelming. Neon art is such an in-person, real-life-experience, which is something I felt that was missing after the digital prison of 2020.
What I didn’t expect was the space I made for conversation. By putting a self portrait of my vulva in public spaces, I was able to create a very intimate and open environment, for complete strangers to talk and ask questions, and share experiences on health, pleasure, and other taboo topics. We had these conversations out on the street, or in the park. We were doing the work of normalizing the conversation around vulvas.
I met people of all ages who were inspired and excited about what I was creating, people who saw how this project could change things, and believed in my mission. I can recall so many interesting encounters from the gynecologist I met in Asbury Park, to the 7 year old boy in vegas who wanted to be a doula, to the actual doula I met in the middle of Joshua Tree National Park. There was even a 45-year-old mom in Portland who was so excited that our girls were going to grow up with much more support and love around education about their genitalia and sexuality.
What is your favorite way to consume cannabis, and how does it inspire or affect your art?
I love to smoke flower, more than anything else. Rolling up a joint to share with my other half or with a few friends is my absolute favorite. I enjoy edibles on occasion when I have a long flight, or when I’m just hanging around the house and painting. Weed gives me the space to just focus in on the moment, and soak it all up. I’m still trying to find my favorite strains, but I usually love the bright energy of the lemony sativas, and as I’ve gotten older I prefer the heavier indicas, like Girl Scout Cookies. A perfect day for me starts with a cup of aeropress coffee, and a joint in the garden, followed by some yoga and time to create art. I think cannabis has always been a huge tool for me with introspection, and self discovery.
CBD has played a huge role in my self healing. While battling the fluctuations of hormones and major mood swings that come with managing my thyroid condition, and the return to a natural cycle after taking some form of birth control for over ten years, cannabis and CBD have really helped me through some of my darkest moments in dealing with anxiety, mental health, and depression, as well as culture shock.
You are travel bloggers as well as artists, and that seems to be a huge part of the way you create and showcase your work. How do the two intertwine for you?
My history of travel blogging laid the foundation for The 2021 Genital Electric Full Exposure tour. Had my partner and I not traveled the world constantly for 10 years, I would never have had the cajones to take a cross country tour like this. We certainly wouldn’t have been able to document it in the way we have.
I’m a huge culture nerd. I love learning about new cultures, and alternative ways of living. I have especially loved learning about cannabis and other subcultures around the world. Being able to recognize how things are taboo in some places and not in others has helped me to see my own culturally instilled fears, and with that awareness I am able to work through these fears into a powerful space of freedom.
I hope that with Genital Electric I can shed some light where the sun don’t shine, help women love their vulvas, explore themselves without fear and embrace the power of their own pleasure.
What is the best way for people to follow along with Genital Electric, your other art, and your journeys (list any social here, instagram, websites etc).
Follow the journey, watch the vlogs, and check out the updates on instagram.com/genitalelectric.
Visit genitalelectric.art to see the Electric Pussy Party collection, purchase prints and merch, and read The Electric Diary.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Pleasure is Power. Love Yourself, You deserve it.
The Cannabis Cactus Magazine has more great interviews.
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