There’s a great quote by Bertolt Brecht that says that “Art is not a mirror held up to reality
but a hammer with which to shape it.” This idea has always really resonated with me in that what we create, no matter how small, is not only an expression of who we are, but also a vital part of making the world the way we want it to be. Whether painting or photography, or even a finger puppet!, the choices that an artist makes mean something because our work is inherently a message out to the rest of the world.
It’s always been important to me to create work that’s clever and fun, but given that art-making is also a opportunity to “shape the world,” I’ve also tried to feature puppet characters and people who were progressive or subversive in some way. Whether it’s a character we see take a journey no one would’ve expected at the start, one that breaks seemingly every stereotype, if I’m going to commemorate someone, it’s because I love it and I see real positive value in what that person represents.
In this spirit, I recently jumped at the chance to create a silent auction donation for Abortion Care Network‘s yearly meeting. ACN supports independent abortion providers around the country–a network that currently provides care for 2 out of 3 women in the U.S. who have abortions each year–and works to increase access and end stigma and harassment of abortion-seekers and caregivers.
Obviously this is an issue that’s been in the news in recent months, I was glad to have an opportunity to do something positive for this cause, and excited for the challenge of creating work that would appeal specifically to ACN’s members and donors. I decided that this event would be a great opportunity to celebrate some of my favorite feminist icons as puppets. It was no easy decision to narrow down the field, but I eventually chose four women: birth control pioneer Margaret Sanger (a no-brainer, given the cause), radical anti-racist and women’s right activist Angela Davis, scholar and writer bell hooks (watch this great recent clip of her and the divine Laverne Cox talking about feminism and reproductive rights), and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, my love for whom has been well-documented.
Custom projects like this are always exciting, and even more so when I have an opportunity to indulge my activist side more than usual. Here’s hoping the crowd at the ACN event agrees and the set raises some money for such a great cause!