I’m painting a series of Wonder Woman paintings for an upcoming show at Illumine Gallery.
In the 1970s, Lynda Carter was my first crush. She was strong, outspoken and so capable.
Plus she handed the bad guys their own asses.
And then she quietly disappeared. Wonder Woman wasn’t in movies or TV after. Not that I can recall. Not until a fan film was made.
And OMG was it incredible. I never knew I was starving for Wonder Woman until I got a taste of her re-imagined now.
Online reaction was loud and clear and very quickly we saw her added to Batman vs Superman.
So much win right there.
No longer campy but strong. A superhero to embrace and be proud of.
One of the things that maybe I don’t talk about enough, but am definitely aware of, is representation of women and visible minorities in pop culture.
If pop culture tells stories about our society, and how we perceive ourselves, it’s missing a huge chunk of the population. And a huge chunk of the population doesn’t get a chance to completely embrace the stories because they can’t see themselves in them.
Things are getting better, but it’s 2017 and we’re still waiting for a Black Widow standalone movie.
Scarlet Witch is a tool to move plots ahead. Pepper Potts, who got super powers and then lost those super powers, said “fuck it” and left.
For women, our stories inevitably end when we either get married or have kids. The happily-ever-afters. Now we’re fulfilled, it’s time to move on to more interesting stories.
Notice how all the females so far in superhero movies are single and childless? And overshadowed?
I’m not knocking men here or any group. I believe as humans we can’t knock one group down to bring another up. We need to raise each other up.
This isn’t a story about feminism. It’s a reflection on how women appear and don’t appear in these movies and shows.
I’ve chosen some different approaches to my Wonder Woman paintings. Harsh crops. In many pieces she’s almost cut out of the painting. Stark colours. Flattening her our. Losing her details.
Through my use of composition and colour, I’m telling my own story about women’s narratives in pop culture. Present but unimportant. A tool for plot or love interest.
Fighting to be seen and heard, but the eye slips past and over the shoulder instead. The background is more interesting.
A few years ago, when I first jumped back into painting from movies and shows, I painted randomly. Finding my artist’s voice. And one of my friends, the one who pushed me out the door, asked me why I painted only men.
I happen to like men. Men are awesome. Easy answer.
But then I started looking around and I realised that I was painting men also because there weren’t a lot of leading women to paint.
One of the reasons I wanted and needed to be involved in Illumine’s SHE show, was to step up and add my voice, through my art, saying we need representation.
We need it in our superhero movies. We need it in our daily stories. We need to see ourselves in the stories our culture tells.
I, personally, am watching shows more critically. Painting more thoughtfully. I started last year and plan on continuing through this year. Not knocking down, but raising up and making sure my artist voice is inclusive and loud.