Wednesday, February 14, 2007

A Democratic Art

Altered art is a democratic art. Anyone can make it. There is no special training required and one does not have to invest a lot of money in its making. In fact, you really don't have to spend a penny. Many of us in this project barter materials. Ah, but that's another story...

Thinking about democracy and commercialism led me to design the suffrage book, which is nearing completion. (Thank God for snow days!)

Initially, I was going to make a spoof palimpsest on the discarded book, which was published in the 1950s and written by a male doctor who purported to know what was wrong with women (why women were so unhappy). I reveled in ripping out many of its pages, let me tell you.

So, thinking about the good doctor's advice, my loathing of the rampant commercialistic promotion of women as objects (a theory many women buy into, which is scary), and recent dispatches on women politicoes and trends in voting led me to re-design my book into a report and helpful resource on suffrage, women in politics and current voting practices, or lack thereof. With a female Speaker of the House (United States Congress) and a female presidential candidate, perhaps things will change on the lack thereof side of the ledger. One can -- and should -- hope. One can and MUST do her part to help other women vote.

This morning, while unsticking my fingers from a runaway page, I came up with a tentative title:

The State of Being unEqual
A Report on the Politics of Being Women
(2007 - Believe it or Not!)

Now before someone accuses me of being sexist and playing the victim card, let me inform you that, in addition to discussing inequality, the book takes women to task for their lack of interest in issues that affect so many vital conditions - from what we earn to what we do with our bodies. It seeks to remind women of the work our predecessors undertook to secure our right to vote, a right, I will add, which too few of today's women use or use wisely.

As I noted previously, this book differs significantly from "April Through August," which is now on display at the Pottsville Free Public Library, which graciously allowed us to take over an entire room to work on our books. "April Through August" is about color, texture and embellishment and it has few words. "The State of Being unEqual" employs color and ephemera, yes, but it is also filled with information and editorializations, including newspaper and magazine articles (wherein I leave the biolines intact in respect for copyright and in hope that readers will pursue additional related materials).

If it sounds like I am having a good time with this, you are right. I am. I also feel like I am doing a little bit toward my part of remembering that not so very long ago, women did not have the rights we have today. Predecessors earned it for us. We need to work to keep it.


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