"51 Hours" collage by Elaine Luther

51 Hours” collage by Elaine Luther, 2021.

I heard on a podcast (Stuff You Missed in History Class) about a study done by the Department of Home Economics on housework. Yes, the U.S. government used to have a Department of Home Economics!

The study report was called, “Is the Modern Housewife a Lady of Leasure?” (That’s how it’s spelled in the report.)

The whole report is online, you can read it! Page one of the report is in the “title page” collage for this series, which is a 12” x 12” wood panel, it also has “1929” – the year of the report, in tiny numbers, and large, vintage style house number letters for “51.”

I’ve been using the timecards back in my home studio for a while now. I’ve used them in tiny matchbox art, with a tiny working man, and then a mother, holding a baby. And I used a time card in a new work in my series, “Medals that You Wouldn’t Want to Earn.”

So naturally I packed my timecards, just in case, when I went to the Grand Marais Art Colony in northern Minnesota, for my recent residency.

I’d been thinking a lot about labor, domestic labor, unpaid caring work. It made sense to collage right on top of these timecards, as a statement about all of the unpaid work, usually done by women, mothers and others, and often unpaid or underpaid and usually under-appreciated, by society, if not by the children involved.

There are 7 time cards, one for each day of the week, naturally.

Photo collage of three time cards, collaged by Elaine Luther.

“Childrcare,” “Mending” and “Escape,” three collages on time cards for mothers, by Elaine Luther, 2021.

Time cards collaged by Elaine Luther.

“Cooking,” “Entertaining” and “Sewing/Lessons” timecards for mothers, by Elaine Luther, 2021.