Artist: Christina Maldonado
Exhibition: Baby Ladies
Gallery: CSULB School of Art, Merlino Gallery
Website: No website was provided
Instagram: No Instagram was provided
About the Artist:
Christina Maldonado is featured as part of an exchange between CSULB and the University of Central Florida, where both schools feature the work of students from the other school in their respective art galleries. The pieces featured were selected by a jury at the University of Central Florida. Though the artists were not present and available for comment, they did offer statements as companions to their pieces. In Christina’s statement, she declares that she is a feminist. “Many young women don’t fully grasp the concept of feminism but feel empowered by the label,” says the artist’s statement. According to the artist statement, Christina’s intention with the series that this picture is a part of is to explore “the branding of feminism and its role in our modern world,” as she feels that today’s society has failed to educate young women about the issues that face them while profiting off of the aforementioned “misconception of feminism.”
The photograph is a very simple piece. It features bright colors that stand out to the eye, with the light blue background making it stand out in a plain white background. The photograph only features two objects and has a stark contrast between them and the background. The background looks clean and untainted; while the arm in the picture is positioned in a way that shows many bumps, making it appear more natural. None of the body is shown, only the arm. The only identifier that one could use to determine this arm is a woman’s is the style of the nails. This picture feels like the epitome of minimalism, featuring very little but using its contents to say so much.
The piece, part of a series called “Baby Ladies,” is a photograph of a woman’s hand holding up her middle finger towards the sky blue background as she holds a lighter up with her fingers that has the word “Feminist” facing the viewer of the picture. The woman’s hand is holding down the crimson switch on the lighter, igniting it. The raising of the middle finger is often seen as a sign that is used to make a statement. The pink writing of “feminist” on the lighter indicates to the viewer of the photograph that the woman holding the lighter identifies as a feminist. Photography is a medium that permanently captures its content; a photo’s content will not change within that photo. The flame coming from the lighter will forever be lit in the photo, just as the woman holding the lighter will forever identify as a feminist.
Synthesis / My Experience:
In the book Ain’t I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism, social activist Bell Hooks defined feminism as “a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression.” This is also the definition that best fits what I believe feminism is. I often see people online denouncing feminism as women hating men, or as men trying to gain sympathy with women by claiming to be feminists. In reality, it is about equality. What I really liked about the peace is the way that it proudly stands by that label, not flinching at whatever may be before it. I loved the selection of light blue as the background color because light blue is a color that one may associate with innocence or peace. The contrast between the peaceful background with the boldness of the raised middle finger and the ignited “feminist” lighter really spoke to me because it shows that not everything is as great as the light blue background may imply, and feminism is arriving to point that out and be heard. I love that the artist and her piece are unflinching in the stance they are taking, and are choosing to be so bold and proud of it.