Friday, May 18, 2018

Alternative Valentines

(Above:  Alternative Valentine, Be My Equal. Altered 1950s or 60s classroom Valentine.  Framed: 9 1/2" x 8 1/2".  Click on any image to enlarge.)

I'm part of an upcoming three-woman show called Alternative Storytellers.  The other two artists are ceramist Olga Yukhno and found paper artist Flavia Lovatelli.  Olga is tackling the concept through a unique approach.  She's using NPR stories of displaced people and immigration.  Olga is focusing on stories that involve environmental issues.  I'm looking mostly at feminist twists to familiar fairy tales.  Valentine's Day isn't exactly a "fairy tale" except that the expectation is generally the same, silly "happily ever after" ending that assumes a woman's ultimate role is on the arms of a man.  At least that's the way I always thought of it.
 (Above:  Alternative Valentine: Be Your Own Autonomous Self. Framed: 8 1/2" x 8 1/2")

In elementary school, I hated Valentine's Day.  I hated the mandatory requirement of giving every boy in my class a sugary sweet message, especially the boys who teased me and called me names ... just because I was taller than them.  Most of all, I hated the fact that I had to actually MAKE all those valentines.  This was a tradition in the Lenz household.  In truth, I loved cutting up pink and red construction paper and gluing heart shapes to paper doilys.  I just hated writing the insincere "Be Mine" messages.
 (Above:  Alternative Valentines: Chicks Before Dicks. Framed 9 1/2" x 8 1/2".)

I hated the entire notion of finding a "boyfriend" as if a defining quality of worth within the classroom.  In the fifth grade, a girl name Debbie got a box of chocolate from a new boy named Jim.  She was as embarrassed by the attention as I was by the lack of attention.  Everything about Valentine's Day seemed wrought with anxiety.  That's why I went ahead and collaged most inappropriate words on this particular, altered valentine.  "Chicks Before Dicks" isn't any better than "Dicks Before Chicks".

(Above:  Alternative Valentine: Give Me Equal Pay and I'll Buy My Own Roses. Framed: 8 1/2" x 8 1/2")

This one is likely my favorite in the group.  For me, it is a perfect alternative to the Valentine's Days I spent in elementary school, a place that taught me that boys could grow up to be doctors, lawyers, firemen, and even President of the United States while girls were currently being liberated to careers as airline stewardesses, nurses, and legal secretaries.  I think it was in elementary school that I got my earliest education in feminism!


Els said...

HA, love these alternatives, Susan !

Ann Scott said...

These pieces are great - from a distance so cute but on closer inspection they surprise. Now you are all about the words, only they are YOUR words! I can relate to your childhood Valentine's Day memories.

FreeDragon said...

Love these.