The last two weeks I've been sewing my heart out on my piece for the Airing Out the Dirty Laundry show at Gallery C3. It's an amazing ongoing, collaborative, traveling art installation created by Andrea Downs after participating in the Women's March with her daughter. She has inspired women to create individual pieces to hang on a laundry line with the goal of eventually lining the entire route of future marches. Each piece is made up of at least two layers, a sheer piece and a opaque piece made out of paper of textile that can be hung on a line. The piece is personal for each woman, addressing her story or Women's March issue.
The absurdity of gender roles has been glaring to me, not just now, but throughout my life. I've always been trying to prove to someone that I'm not just some helpless little girl. I've had jobs that are traditionally male (i.e. law enforcement, welder) and embraced "traditional" roles for women. My parents signed me up for ballet because soccer was for boys and "too rough", despite the hours I sat on the sidelines while my brother played (even as the girls' league was in the adjacent field). I played ice hockey with the neighborhood kids in the winter, and the boys told me I was too rough. As a college freshman, I did a research paper on sexism in textbooks which generally made girls dumb while boys solved problems. What mattered to me was what I was capable of. Ultimately, I think designating roles for each gender limits everyone's potential.
I tried to raise my sons without these stereotypes, letting them express themselves openly. They both grew their hair out for locks of love, one loved his dollhouse and the other his pink room, among other things. They expect women to be their equals and not their servants. I could go on but it's not necessary.
It's about time the world is coming around even with small things like getting rid of pink and blue toy aisles. Girls don't need pink legoes. In my opinion, I preferred my legoes coming in boxes labeled 500 Pieces instead of some movie inspired set. It was a lot freer without instructions.
I created an apron for the show, much like the ones I'm working on for my dirndl dress sculptures. Aprons are loaded with meaning, and I'm planning on creating some ceramic ones soon. I used iron-on transfers to apply quotes to a dishcloth. Each quote was embroidered on to the apron, some with beads and ribbon. Everything hand sewn giving me ample time to contemplate and practice mindfulness. Since some people think gender is black and white, I used this as my color palette. I loved the "boy" fabric from Hobby Lobby with its' robots and legoes juxtaposed with all the "girly" aspects of the apron. Again, I'm creating something "pretty" to draw the viewer in and hopefully engage them. I wanted to avoid the TLDR response so I used succinct quotes, plus the one image from a children's book which beneath it reads "Boys fix things. Girls need things fixed." Coming from a girl who fixes a lot of shit, gender roles suck, maybe a few more people will realize this.