Janet Davidson-Hues has dedicated herself to integrating language into her visual field providing infinite possibilities of interpretation and accessibility. Mickey Mouse made his way into her None of Your Business painting series and Minnie was born to represent women who have found voice and are speaking out in her #MeToo series, which is a presumptive look at the widespread prevalence of sexual assault and harassment and the insidious nature of the problem associated with silence on the part of survivors.
The women represented in this exhibition are poised to deflect barbs and accusations, and to absorb misogynistic and hate-filled rhetoric, lies and more lies, innuendos and insinuations. We come together and listen to each other, believe each other, and realize our commonality, whether we are a cartoon character, a woman of art, or a flesh and blood woman like you and me or a member of an enlightened community that surrounds us.
MINNIE MOUSE first appeared in Plane Crazy. Minnie is invited to join Mickey in the first flight of his aircraft. She accepts the invitation, but not his request for a kiss in mid-flight. Mickey eventually forces Minnie into a kiss but this only results in her parachuting out of the plane. This first film depicted Minnie as somewhat resistant to the demanding affection of her potential boyfriend and capable of escaping his grasp. And this is 1928!
The #MeToo series is a presumptive look at the widespread prevalence of sexual assault and harassment, especially in the workplace. Also, of concern is the insidious nature of the problem associated with silence on the part of survivors and the longevity of the social issue, having been present really since the beginning of time.
LISA SIMPSON is a charismatic 8 year old who plays jazz on her saxophone, is innovative, insightful, and extremely intelligent. As a baby, Lisa changed her own diapers and solved mathematical problems, thus her label “child prodigy”. Lisa is extremely passionate about ideologies and social movements, encouraging the idea of feminism, women's rights and the crusade against objectification and stereotypes of women. Lisa's political convictions are generally leftist and quite liberal.
NANCY originated in 1933. To say that Nancy is a simple gag strip about an airheaded, simple-minded slot-nosed kid is to miss the point completely. Nancy Ritz, a typical and somewhat mischievous eternally eight-year-old girl, is always a little sassy, a little rude, 100-percent kid, spiky helmet hair and all. Nancy is seen as a proto-feminist, a real role model for little girls. She’s resilient and tough. She’s a great problem solver, is intelligent and clever, and yet she’s still a kid. What’s relatable about Nancy is that she has anxieties, but she’s really confident.
LITTLE LULU orignated in 1935. Known for her signature loopy corkscrew curls, Lulu’s assertiveness, individuality, and creativity is empowering to witness. The series is powerfully feminist despite the decades in which the stories were created. Lulu is raucous and mischievous.
PICASSO WOMEN: There is irony here as Picasso is the typical serial abuser, and alpha male personality. Can I separate his behavior and his genius? Yes. I have to.
Femme écrivant (Woman Writing) 1934 32” x 25” (original).
This painting is of Marie-Thérese Walter, Picasso’s young muse, in the act of writing a letter while dreaming. There is a sense of voyeurism as if he caught her unaware, breasts exposed. The dimly lit room is a reflection of their relationship cloaked in secrecy. As the relationship ended after a decade, Picasso abused her by bringing up his new love interest, Dora Maar.
Woman in Hat 1939 24” x 18” (original size).
Woman in Hat is Dora Maar, an artist herself, a French photographer, painter, and poet. She photographed Picasso working in his studio and also documented him creating his famous anti-war painting, Guernica (1937). Picasso was abusive to Maar and often pit her against Walter for his love.
LUCY (1952) Film director Steve Martino said, "If Lucy found out she wasn’t being paid as much as Charlie Brown to be in my movie, I’d have definitely heard about it." Charles Schultz’s Peanuts comic strip is filled with resilient, articulate, self-actualized women like Lucy, whose feminist credentials continue, after 70 years. Lucy is sometimes wrong, but never uncertain.
ELIZABETH TAYLOR was the ultimate movie star: violet-eyed, luminously beautiful, and bigger than life. On screen and off, Ms. Taylor was a provocative combination of the angel and the seductress. She was sometimes gaudy. She and MM were Warhol’s ultimate muses in establishing iconic symbols of popular culture. This combination of glamour and tragedy appealed to Warhol’s fascination with fame and his own deep sense of morbidity.
MARILYN MONROE had a vulnerability that Liz did not have. Warhol canonizes Monroe, revealing her public persona as a carefully structured illusion. Warhol acknowledged his own fascination with a society in which personas could be manufactured, commoditized, and consumed like products. He couldn’t be Marilyn Monroe but he wanted to be.
STATUE OF LIBERTY: A universal symbol of freedom, enlightenment, hope, friendship, and opportunity, the Statue of Liberty also represents the power of woman, and I am including her as a representative of a powerful woman who probably has been subjected to some sort of abuse just like the rest of us.
WONDER WOMAN was a breakthrough character for DC Comics in that she was a (gasp) woman! Since her debut in 1941, she's been a symbol of a woman's power, although a problematic one, having been written and drawn by men for a male audience, complete with bondage fetishes. It seems to be based on feminist ideology in that she is certainly capable of liberating herself at a moment’s notice, but was originally created as an amalgam of creator Marsden’s wife and his lover. Not that that was not enough, but she got the short end of the stick in pop culture as well in her comic book life. Nevertheless, Wonder Woman persevered.