BULL Creek student Ayla Woodland has taken society to task for “idolising marriage as a life goal” in her contorted self-portrait at the WA Art Gallery.
A graduate from All Saints College, Woodland says she was compelled to paint Next in line after reading the play Fences, which follows an African-American family in Pittsburgh in the 1950s.
Woodland was struck by the mother’s “lack of agency in her marriage dynamic”.
“In my self-portrait as a 1950s bride I am stuck in an awkward position, feeling pressured by society to get married,” she says.
“I believe that contemporary society should stop idolising marriage as a life goal and instead encourage women to be happy with or without a partner.
“I began looking into marital advice from the 1950s and found a quote from Emily Mudd, one of the advisors, ‘to be a successful wife is a career in itself’, which left me further unsettled.
“Continuing research brought me to Betty Friedan’s The Problem That Has No Name, a series of anecdotes from midcentury housewives on how they live day to day, completing mundane tasks and caring for their husbands.
“Whilst these quotes and life stories seem extraneous to the modern ear, I wanted to see how these outmoded views have evolved into modern-day life.
“I wanted to translate the helplessness and lack of influence women had in their marital choices and evolve it into an image.”
Next in line is one of 30 artworks by year 12 visual arts graduates from 21 schools across WA to be featured in Pulse Perspectives.
The exhibition showcases a variety of mediums including painting, sculpture and digital, with artworks tackling issues like pollution, marriage pressure and gender.
Perth student Tanna Wasserman has a pop at the fashion industry with a dress made entirely from dehydrated fruit and vegetables.
Alarmed that the fashion industry is one of the leading culprits of environmental degradation, the year 12 Carmel pupil created the artwork Made from 100% fruit.
“I began experimenting with a range of different materials that were based on bioplastics such as fruit skins, dehydrated fruits and even materials made from kombucha,” Wasserman said.
“In the end I chose to work with dehydrated fruit and produced a mass amount of it.
“I was inspired by the work of Donna Franklin who explores different organic materials.
“Her focus on biological processes and its relationship to the natural world was shown in her garment made from orange bracket fungus and another from fermented wine skins.
“By considering alternative fabrics I hope companies will produce clothing that doesn’t negatively impact the environment.”
Pulse Perspectives is at WA Art Gallery in Northbridge until September 27.
by STEPHEN POLLOCK