I have been wanting to do something with this squirly-curly design for a long time. This is a painting on a wood panel dating from Louis the Sixteenth's time. I had played with it on a postcard of a woman and when I serendipitously passed the big rectangle over the woman's face, I instantly knew I needed a strong face with eyes that grabbed you.
As fate would have it.....
I have had this postcard of the woman for a long time. It's in pretty sad condition, but I love this woman's face, those EYES. No way I could throw this card away.
Initially, I thought she must be German.
But the back of the card tells me it was actually printed in Italy ....
... because the first word in the list is Italian ("stampato") and then the German word and finally French for "Printed Matter." (Different postage rate than if labeled a postcard.) So I don't know if she's German or Italian or what. I just know her face is one that draws you in and you can't help but stare back.
The card was mailed in 1904 to Alphonse, who worked (or owned?) the Turbine, a sawmill in Allarmont, France, in the eastern Vosges. On the front, the sender wrote:
I can't understand all of it, but I believe the sender is an old war buddy of Alphonse. "Viva the class and the good tobacco and the conscripts who have 1 ??, 77 [until they can] see this young girl. Salutations."
So not a very romantic message to go with the face, but I recall Mary Green's words about using script strictly as a graphic element, not as part of the story and .... I pair them up anyway:
While my main emphasis is to frame the woman's eyes, I love the 'coincidence' of how the head/hair of woman in the wood panel painting falls right on the woman's lips. It looks like lipstick, that funky lipstick style of a 1920s pierrot or harlequin figure. It also looks like the little lady is kissing the big lady.
Note: During the 48 hours before I started working on this project, I finished reading a novel, The Bones of Paris. It is set in Paris in 1929 and features liberated women flocking there to spread their wings and their legs. I had also seen Saving Mr. Banks at the movies. This movie is a Disney-fied version of how Walt got P.L. Travers, the author of Mary Poppins, to hand over the rights to her story so they could make a movie.
(You will feel sorry for the author in this Disney film but in real life, she was not a nice woman. She did something which I think must surely rank up there with the Seven Deadly Sins: she adopted a twin. Yes, you read that right. She didn't adopt both of the boys. She took just one.) Anyway, in real life and in the movie, Travers did not approve of one of the Disney changes: the housewife Mrs. Banks in the story became a suffragist in the movie.
So I guess I can claim that subconsciously I was under strong feminist influences while I played in Photoshop with the two postcards you see above, but the truth of the matter is that I am quite conscience and fully aware of my feminist stance:) So my little 16th century lady becomes Lady Liberty and in bold Weltschmerz font, I add my feminist statement. By the time I finish the collage, it is 2 in the morning and time to sleep on it.
Four and a half hours later, my internal body clock wakes me up right on schedule despite protests that my wrinkles need more down time.
Back at the computer, looking at my collage again, I feel I need to give folks a Weltschmerz font-feminist-free option. I also change the eye area to black and white for even starker contrast.
So what is she now? How will I describe her? What will be my listing title?
I still have a little lady kissing a big lady.
Marketing to the lesbian-gay audience seems like the natural thing to do.
But as anyone here in the United States who has an ounce of awareness knows, some things that seem so simple and natural and obvious are also the source of much polarization and division and hate speech.
Would it be worth it to me as a business owner to sell 1 digital greeting card scan to a lesbian if I risked alienating scores of my religious customers?
No, one $5.99 sale would obviously not be worth it.
But as a human, what will my silence cost me?
I believe in equal rights and freedom for all. I am a feminist. I am a humanist.
So why do I hesitate?
Because I have had it instilled in me for decades that I should not unnecessarily offend people.
I do a "lesbian" word search on Etsy. Seven thousand, four hundred and 87 items instantly come up. I check out a few listings. A couple make me blush:)
Words from a a news article I read last night are still fresh in my ears.
Frank McCain, one of the "Greensboro Four" who helped put this nation on the right path toward freedom and equality for all during the Civil Rights movement, died Thursday, at the age of 72.
One of McCain's compatriots, a fellow "Greensboro Four" member who was known as Ezell Blair, Jr., back then and is now a Muslim who goes by the name Jibreel Khazan, said this:
"Frank would say we didn't want to set the world on fire, we just wanted to sit down and eat like everybody else. We wanted to be included in the round table of humanity."
I've made my decision.
The table is set.
My art, for better or worse, is available to all.