Vintage Purses For 21st Century Feminists

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Michele Pred, a conceptual artist, works with found and confiscated objects and technology to make both cultural and political statements through her art. Michele’s commitment to producing work that comments on contemporary society comes from growing up in a family of scholars, anthropologists, sociologist and geopolitical educators.

Born out of a renewed sense of urgency to defend a woman’s right to choose, Michele’s recent series, “Promote The General Welfare,” combines vintage purses and electroluminescent wire with simple messages of Pro Choice, Equality, My Body My Business, and ERA to create small-scale billboards.

In an artist statement about the work, Michele explains:

In 1989 I made my first art piece about reproductive rights. Back then, I never would have believed that 25 years later women would have less access to abortion and other critical health services. However, recent decisions by the United States Supreme Court leave no doubt that a woman’s right to choose is still under assault and that negative attitudes toward basic health care, like birth control, stubbornly persist.

I have created a limited edition series of 48 Pred-à-Porter purses. Each unique piece is made using a vintage handbag from the 1950’s or 60’s. I chose purses as my canvas as a way to marry the politically-charged messages of the Pro-Choice movement with representations of women’s modern economic power and the possibilities for change that come with it. For me, the use of purses from the mid-twentieth century also calls back to that critical era and reminds us how much has changed and, more importantly, how much has not.

Finally, this body of work is rooted in my formative years growing up in Berkeley, California during the 70’s, where I was exposed to the women’s movement. It is also a continued homage to my father, Allan Pred, who inspired the feminist in me at an early age.

Michele’s artwork has been exhibited in galleries, art fairs and museums in London, Stockholm, Sydney, New York, Bologna, Miami, Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco. Her work is part of the permanent collection at the 9/11 Memorial Museum in New York, the 21st Century Museum, The Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) New York, The Contemporary Museum in Honolulu, the Di Rosa Collection in Napa, CA and is held in numerous corporate and private collections.

To check out more images, visit Michele’s website and follow her on Twitter.




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