Growing up, I wanted to be Audrey Hepburn. Or Doris Day. Or any of the beautiful, plucky, well-dressed heroines of the 50’s and 60’s. I longed for the “good ol’ days”. When women dressed up in hats and gloves to go shopping and flitted around the house in chiffon petticoats. But then I woke up and realized that I was looking at the past through movie-colored glasses. That those women, while dressed to the nines on-screen, still had to scrub toilets and change diapers and were still fighting to be recognized as equals. But have we really come that far? Artist Kelly Reemsten captures the frustration and seeming futility of all that it means to be female in a post-feminist world.
Reemsten’s women are dressed in highly feminine candy colored vintage frocks, but often wielding iconically masculine tools such as a chainsaw or axe. These tools can be seen perhaps as menacing or even empowering. Or rather, looking at the imagery as a whole, the dresses and tools may be symbols of our efforts as women to “have it all”.
Women still feel pressured, perhaps now more than ever to be all things to all people. They are expected to not only cook, clean, care for children, etc., but now are also expected to have a successful career. And look fabulously fashionable while doing it. What once was strictly male domain is now our stomping ground, as well.
Are the women pictured trying to maintain their femininity in a male dominated workforce? Or are they working to show us that gender differences are inherently there and should not be ignored? We were created equal, yet different.
What say you, Artsies? While you’re pondering, take a gander on over at Kelly Reemsten’s website to see more of her work.
Featured image is Slip, oil on panel, 72×48. All images are via the artist’s website.