The House of Mirth

Art Narratives by Cynthia Korzekwa

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While sewing on this dress, for some unknown reason, I thought about Lily Bart.

Many years ago, I accompanied my daughter to Aix-in-Provence for a language course.  My reading companion was Edith Wharton’s THE HOUSE OF MIRTH.  Published in 1905, the book gets its title from Ecclesiastes 7:4: The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.


The protagonist is Lily Bart, 29 and unmarried. Lily will not marry the man she really loves because he is not rich thus dedicates her time trying to find a wealthy husband.  Unfortunately, Lily sabotages all of her possibilities for marriage as she unwittingly gets involved in a scandal that will eternally ruin her.

I remember quite well the night I finished reading THE HOUSE OF MIRTH because I cried and cried…

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“Freshness Is Not Eternal” Huipil

Freshness Is Not Eternal

One morning while sitting in the kitchen searching for meaning in life, I noticed that the oranges in the fruit bowl were getting mushy. The firm plumpness they had when I bought them had disappeared. With this realization, I had an epiphany —life is ephemeral– so I needed to get up and get with the program before it was too late.

This huipil was made from pieces of white cotton stitched together to be used as a canvas for a drawing made with water-resistant markers. Hand-painting, appliqué, and hand-stitching are used to further embellish the huipil. The back is a patchwork of colorful fabric scraps.

The model is also wearing a paper bead necklace and a bracelet made from ballpoint pen caps.

Freshness Is Not Eternal Huipil

On this model, the huipil is oversized so it falls off her shoulder when she dances!

Freshness Is Not Eternal Huipil

Note the necklace made from old T-shirts.

Details.

Freshness Is Not Eternal

Point of departure sketch. The huipil was made c. 2010.

Photographer, Chiara Pilar

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“Feminist” huipil

Here’s my friend, Marina, modelling for me once again. She’s wearing a huipil I made from an old pair of sweat pants and lace remnants my mom gave me. The red stitching running across the front reads “feminist“.

Not long ago, while discussing animatedly, a male friend of mine called me a feminist as if being a feminist was something bad. But a feminist is simply a woman who tries to protect her rights and the rights of other women. So why do so many men have a problem with this?

We live in a world excessively masculinized were women are treated as inferiors. It was not always this way. Once, when life was considered sacred, women were revered for their major contribution to the life cycle.

The concept of democracy has been around for c 2,500 years but women have been voting only for the past 100. This means that for 2,400 years society has evolved dominated by male and not female values.  And we see where that has taken us!

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Once upon a time, the many cultures of this world were all part of the gynocratic age. Paternity had not yet been discovered, and it was thought … that women bore fruit like trees—when they were ripe. Childbirth was mysterious. It was vital. And it was envied. Women were worshipped because of it, were considered superior because of it…. Men were on the periphery—an interchangeable body of workers for, and worshippers of, the female center, the principle of life.

The discovery of paternity, of sexual cause and childbirth effect, was as cataclysmic for society as, say, the discovery of fire or the shattering of the atom. Gradually, the idea of male ownership of children took hold….

Gynocracy also suffered from the periodic invasions of nomadic tribes…. The conflict between the hunters and the growers was really the conflict between male-dominated and female-dominated cultures.

… women gradually lost their freedom, mystery, and superior position. For five thousand years or more, the gynocratic age had flowered in peace and productivity. Slowly, in varying stages and in different parts of the world, the social order was painfully reversed. Women became the underclass, marked by their visible differences.

from Gloria Steinem’s “Wonder Woman

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