When Mary Lynn Mahoney, the outreach librarian at the Orland Park Public Library put out a call for “Mythical Monsters,” I naturally went first to Greek Mythology. My kids and I listened to nearly all of the Percy Jackson and related books by Rick Riordon. Could I reclaim Medusa? Show her as she was before?
As I pondered my choices, I thought about, “What are the real monsters in the world now?” Well, the institution of patriarchy that oppresses women and denies all the world the benefit of our talents and contributions, naturally.
I had recently been commenting to a friend about the overuse in collage of removing people’s heads and replacing them with something unexpected, like a fish or a bird’s head. And then I went and did it with letters!
But, as my daughter pointed out, by doing this, I’m communicating that it’s not individual men, it’s the institution.
I was on a roll and also had images of women from a color 1950s Montgomery Wards catalog. (The men are from a M. Wards catalog as well.)
For the ladies, I went with railing against conformity.
The word conformity falls off because, well, why conform? The background has recipes on it. The magenta shape is scraps of Tyvek that resulted from another process. I had painted them and sewn them together with no plan, and that found it’s way into this piece.
And here are the two pieces together, as installed at the library.
These are both pieces that I absolutely wouldn’t have made without this call for art. There are some really terrific works in this show – I don’t want to post images without permission of the artists – it was really cool to see the show and the wide variety in how people approached the topic. There’s even a work made with Shrinky-Dinks, inside an iPhone box! That’s unexpected.
All artwork shown is Copyright Elaine Luther 2023.