11 x 8 in.
In America, women have historically been treated as weak, fragile creatures whose main purpose is to look good for and serve their men, and to have and raise the children. In the last 100 years, women have begun breaking away from these stereotypical roles, joining the workforce in greater numbers, educating and supporting themselves, and generally becoming assertive individuals rather than the child-rearing property of their men. However, the dehumanization of women still occurs within our society today. Women are constantly subjected to a media machine focused on completely unrealistic and plasticized female appearances and behavior, and a lasting, antiquated subservience to men. Unmarried women are still referenced as “spinsters,” and are generally treated as if something is wrong with them; and those that choose not to have children are looked down upon by a large portion of our male dominated society, sometimes even regarded as trying to “be” men.
My work focuses on the role of women in America, specifically using classic ideas of femininity during the mid-1900s and the different words people labeled women with. I have chosen vintage pinups –reproducing with pyrography the images originated by such artists as Al Buell and Gil Elvgren – because women of that era were often represented with body types that were more realistic than the stick figures seen in the media today. I have then taken some typical words used to describe women – honey, peach, looker, Jane, dame, etc. – and added them to the work. I feel that the use of these words when referencing women removes their humanity; women become food, eye candy, nameless forms for others to ogle. I seek to highlight the ridiculousness of this dehumanization of women by representing these images burned into wood.
And frankly, pinups are just beautiful images and really fun to burn.
© Jenna McDanold