Monday, November 5, 2007

Art Progess Report:Army of Age (Tentative Title)

It's my last year at York as an undergrad, and also potentially my last chance working in a print studio for an unknown time. So I've decided to document my process this year, as I work on my art projects, which are completely informed by what I learn in the Women's Studies portion of my degree.

Any other authors on this site should feel free to do the same =)

I'll try to do this in small-ish posts so they are readable and not too overwhelming. So I'll start with my artist proposal in this post, that I had to submit earlier this year.
Taking inspiration from pop culture images of women such as superheroes, fairy-tale heroines, villains and other icons, this semester I wish to explore both the invisibility of aging women in visual mass media, and the direct link to youth and sexual appeal that these iconic women of strength, like Wonder Woman and Xena, Warrior Princess must maintain for their popularity. What I would like to do then, is to dedicate my time in next few months, re-drawing these women, the Supergirls and Catwomen, in the image of my (or anyone’s) grandmother. I want to see what happens to the vitality of these sexy crime-fighters, fairy tale princesses and vengeance-seekers when I age them to about eighty years old. What becomes of their power when their youthful appeal slips away as they age like the rest of us? What becomes of their costumes, designed more to catch the eye than to meet the practical requirements of their work? Do these characters become ridiculous when they age? If yes, then why is that so?
It seems to me that we are surrounded by a cultural climate that does not like to see women age. We praise actresses and pop stars, as they get older, for their ability to keep approximating youthfulness. As well, actions that are seen as liberating in our youth become silly in old age. It seems like women’s strength, even in positive pop cultural images remains attached to the way women look, and the way that they look must always be appealing. What I would like to do then, is to take various well known characters from comic books (Wonder Woman, Batgirl, Sailor Moon), t.v./film (Foxy Brown, Charlie’s Angels, Buffy, Xena), fairy tales/legends (Cinderella, Snow White, Pocahontas) and so on and make various series of lithographic portraits of themselves as the elderly women of our society. I am interested also in how their stories must change as I age them. Will Snow White become the Wicked Step-Mother she spent her youth fleeing from? Will anyone want to see Wonder Woman in her halter-top costume when she is eighty years old? Will these new images I create be able to maintain any element of these women’s past feisty-ness?
I plan to print multiple images of these elderly women and superimpose their costumes through the stenciling process of pochoir. I would like to find a way to work some text, perhaps the continuing saga of these women’s lives into the work, though I am not quite sure yet how I will do so. Currently, I am reading Barbara G. Walker’s The Crone: Woman of Age, Wisdom, and Power in order to work out the direction I may want to take their stories. As well, I will be conducting further research into the stories and ideologies that already exist around these characters. I want to make large and varied editions of my elderly heroines and fantasy figures so when they are displayed, not only do they overtake the viewer’s visual plane, these older women are no longer rendered invisible.

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