Travels with Penelope

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Tag: squatty potty

June 16, 2016 Issues Corrected, Here is The Squatty Potty Inspires Art…

If you read my recent posts on the squatty potty you may remember that its lower end purpose is to aid in the evacuation process. Well, it turns out that the squatty potty has served a higher purpose as well.

Recently, in archiving his collection of articles my partner, who has been a vital part of the UCDavis academic community for over forty years, came across some information that described the influence of the squatty potty on a development in mid 20th-century art. Hard to believe? Read on.

As of the mid-sixties a talented group of faculty and grad students in the Art Department at the University of California, Davis would come to wield influence over the direction of some of the mid to late 20th century movements. An illustration of their influence manifested in the art exhibited in an exhibition titled, The Slant Step.

It all began when the now world-famous William Wiley an art professor at Davis, and his student Bruce Nauman discovered a funky step stool at a thrift store in Marin County, California. Instead of a flat step, the step was slanted. If one were to stand on it say, to reach an object on a shelf or cupboard high overhead, one could likely slide off. Intrigued by the irregularity, the artistic duo purchased the stool brought it back to the Davis campus. Shortly, it migrated around the art department drawing the unmitigated fascination of Profs and students to such an extent that the funk object began to enjoy a cult-like status.

By the time I came to work at UCDavis by way of the Davis Enterprise as an art critic over thirty years had passed since The Slant Step exhibition had taken place in San Francisco. It is no surprise that from the intrigue with the stool coupled with their multi-media talent, that the faculty produced such an exhibit. Conversation and continued fascination on the show of object art, ceramics, plaster, and mixed media long on humor continued within the walls of the department for years. I became well aware of The Slant Step, but I did not know the true purpose of the funky step stool until my partner informed me of the information he found as he perused his archives. With that, I did a bit more research and came across a recent article from the LA Times.

Though the squatty potty has only recently achieved a cult-like status among hip health-minded groups, it has a long history. One piece of information I would add to the Times article is one of the meanings of funk: stench-bad odor-smell!

March 24, 2016 Squatty Potty

Usually, I do not get so personal on my blog site, although one could argue that a blog post is always personal, so kindly bear with me.  This past weekend my son and daughter-in-law decided that the time had come to focus on potty training their two –year-old daughter.

After all, if she was ready to drive, she was surely capable of handling a potty.


It would be a concentrated three-day process during which the family would remain at home and in the house for the most part. I was given the assignment of creating artwork with my precious granddaughter between movements.

At the beginning of her transition  from the familiar diaper to the potty-chair and underwear, a momentous process for any two year old, Fed Ex delivered a large box to the front door. My son informed me that the box contained the squatty potty that he had ordered a few days earlier, not a potty for his daughter, but one for the adults in the family.

The weekend turned into a double whammy. Not only would we go through the traditional training with the two-year old, we adults would also be examining our own process and looking at a way to improve on it.

Having traveled to Egypt, lived in Asia, with over a year in India alone, I was very familiar with traditional forms of the squatty potty. We know that our ancestors squatted for thousands of years before the modern toilet was invented. In much of the east squatting over a ground level receptacle still prevails.

Opening the big box revealed a raised bench for the feet that looked like anything but a potty. I doubted the ability of the stepping stool contraption that stood before me to further my bodies ability to eliminate.

Still, I was open to trying it out.  The attached directions instructed me to place the bench-squatty potty in front of the ceramic toilet bowl, sit on the bowl seat,  and bring my feet up on to the bench. The bench was nine inches tall, but I am told a seven inch is also available thereby allowing adjustments for toilet height. After my first go-round I became not only a fan, but as this post attests, an advocate of the squatty potty.

Check out the video for more info. If you remain unconvinced, google your way around the web and research the benefits of squatting. As you will observe, many experts claim that squatting is the one exercise that should never be eliminated. No pun intended.

Along with my granddaughter, I, too, made an adjustment. And, we had a wonderful weekend in which the family gathered to make art,


cook food and learn of a new-old way to experience the human condition.

Happy squatting!