WIVLA (Women in the Visual and Literary Arts) have a project collaboration between a visual artist and a writer. The topic is Reflection. When I read the information about the opportunity, my mind filled with a collage idea.

For a long time, I used to oil paint. As the years have progressed, I have put that part of my creative nature aside, literally, in a closet. Mostly because I’ve lacked the space to have a studio ready to go. With time being so tight in my life, having to set everything up before painting, and then put everything away again… well… that’d pretty much be all I had time for.

For some reason, though, the WIVLA collaboration spoke to me. I could see a collage in my minds eye. I reached out to Ellen, of course, my blog partner and friend. We began to share the ideas of what I was hoping to create.

So much has been changing in my life as a woman, and the journey of a woman’s life has been filling my heart and mind. I decided to do something which expresses a reflection of womanhood.

It began with this meme. The idea behind it, that how you see yourself matters, drew me. At first, I was going to try to use smaller pictures about women engaged in aspects of their lives to somehow create the big tiger, while pasting the small kitten to look at it as a reflection.

Well, I soon got realistic. I don’t have the artistic chops for such a project. So, slowly, the project morphed. It became focused on the idea of a woman in silhouette seeing herself in a mirror. The reflection in it would be of her lifespan.

Then I started collecting the pictures from magazines. As the images emerged from the pages, the project took shape. It became about expressing the journey of a human being born female, to reflect our life’s spans and the decisions we make in each phase.

At one point, we thought of using boxes to symbolize the way that society tries to make us conform to what it considers appropriate for a woman. But in the end, we discarded that. Rosa Glenn Riley, a very dear friend, suggested adding some young girls as well, not just starting in a grown up woman.

That added an element of the men in our lives. Having found a picture of a young girl and boy playing happily together, I began to find pictures of men in the background with women in the forefront. At first we are just good friends, then society makes them become the focal point of a woman’s existence. We must be fit and sexy to attract one, but also modest and demur.

Inside us, we long to fulfill our purpose in life, with the talents and skills that we have been given. We have keen minds, and can offer professional talent to the world, yet we are pressured to be mothers and wives. While, some equality has been achieved here, there’s this idea that women should put family first, while men continue to be unencumbered by the pressure of putting parenting first.

I found beautiful stickers to add a three-dimensional element to the piece. Plus the symbolism of the animals in it: butterflies, lions, eagles, dragons. My favorite are the google eyes. We are always being watched, critiqued, and forced to stand up and defend our decisions when they don’t conform with the basic understanding of society’s traditional version of womanhood.

It was interesting when it came time to doing the older woman’s life. If you get a chance to look through a magazine, you will find that there are few images depicting a successful older women receiving accolades for professional efforts. You do find them standing behind their husbands though as they take the spot light of life achievements. And there’s a ton of pressure to remain youthful and wrinkle free. Yet, that’s not applied to men. Men can grow old and still be considered hot, wrinkled and grey hair not withstanding.

Well, here’s the end result of this project. I still need a good frame for it. But, for what it’s worth, I think it’s a pretty good reflection of womanhood. Maybe that’s what I’ll call it.

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