Notions Assemblage

Notions Assemblage is a collage based on a question posed to me by my elementary school teacher in the 1960s. "Will you ever see a female president in your lifetime?" she asked. I had no doubt in my younger days that indeed I would see such an event, but as Hillary Clinton failed to secure 2118 delegate votes required to receive the Democratic party nomination in 2008, I saw the opportunity for the realization of my long held belief slip by yet again.


The notion of the role females play in politics has been on my mind since the presidential election in 2008. I will be nearly 50 years old during the next bid for presidency, and I am beginning to doubt the assuredness of my younger self. I wonder if I will see a female president in my lifetime. My art piece Notions Assemblage explores the "notion" of females in politics--primarily American. I used the symbolism of sewing notions, which are the tools and accessories used in sewing, because they are most typically associated with females.

The sewing notions help to pose the questions: What are our realms of influence and what tools do we use? How do we pass on skills? Why do antique sewing notions stay in a family so long, passing from one generation to the next? Are these antique instruments as antiquated as our notions of how females exhibit power?

Within the piece, a card of former Clinton's bid for presidency is positioned behind the box looking in through the small opening. It asks: Will we always be on the outside looking in when it comes to the world of politics?

On the back of the assemblage behind Clinton is a white button card with a crisp white shirt outlined. It is ode to the shocking question about ironing shirts that was posed to Clinton during her campaign. The incidence was hardly questioned by the media, even when every other remotely discriminatory nuance seemed to be dissected and analyzed thoroughly. How far have we come? How far have we receded?

The glass panel, replete with scratches, is supported by the cogs of our industry that come in the form of empty sewing bobbins. Have we put cracks in our metaphoric glass ceiling? It seems to me that historically the only realm for female participation has been in the pageantry of politics--think Betsy Ross and the American flag or even the crown on the Statue of Liberty. Both are represented in the piece, with a crown of needles resembling Lady Liberty's headpiece.

What is equality? Is it the separation of the threads of our cloth? Or the tangling of the red white and blue threads? The scissors are poised to cut these threads symbolizing the question: When will we be ready to cut the apron strings to our domesticity and turn our talents to politics and ethical governance?

It is my hope that we will someday soon--hopefully within my lifetime--recognize and support a realm of power in which we are still underrepresented: politics.


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