"129 Ways: For Mary to Marry" is a virtual gallery tour of Kristy Darnell Battani's current exhibition featuring works inspired by a 1964 home economics class assignment requiring Mary to plan her ideal married life for a grade. Battani's satirical, textile inspired works are interwoven with audio from the 1958 McCall's magazine article "129 Ways To Get A Husband."
Join Austin artists Kristy Battani, Ann Flemings, Cheryl Finfrock, and Lucy MacQueen in their studios with their favorite cocktails, while they share a behind the scenes peek into their working process.These artists have studios in the SW corner of Bldg 1 at Canopy and began weekly virtual visits during the shutdown. This is a continuation of those conversations. Join us!
I create abstract artwork from obsolete textual materials that I transform into textile-inspired paintings and collages. I search for source materials that are themselves outdated or represent ideas that are. As part of the creative process I layer and distress the source materials to visually depict disintegration as a metaphor for the passage of time. Typically, I use only one source material in each piece, creating patterns and texture from repetitive shapes and colors, trying to build a bit of order from chaos.
A recent acquisition has given me the opportunity to create an entire body of work for the Austin Studio Tour inspired by a single source material. “129 Ways: For Mary To Marry” has its genesis in the imagery and aspirations of a 1960s teenage girl who was assigned a home economics class project to create her “marital notebook.” I have reimagined these concepts as layered, colorful, satirical tapestries to challenge the female stereotypes that continue to permeate pop culture and media. I narrate the exhibit with a reading of the 1958 McCall’s magazine feature article, “129 Ways to Get a Husband.” With a sense of humor and the absurd, I hope “129 Ways” will provoke conversation about our current concept of gender roles.
Day in and day out, the one thing you can count on is Change. Over time, without our blessing, things shift: they evolve, they alter, they deteriorate. Our surroundings, our possessions, our bodies, our ideas are all in a constant state of Change. All of that Change energizes me, but it also makes me uncomfortable. It feels messy. I want order.
That’s my artwork in a nutshell. I create abstract textile paintings from obsolete textual materials, trying to build a bit of order from chaos.
I begin each piece with some form of outdated textual material. I collect volumes of mundane printed matter that once directed our daily lives, things like discarded manuals, diaries, directories, textbooks, maps, books and ledgers. I am intrigued by the materials— and ideas—that have become obsolete in our society and the speed at which they are displaced by newer concepts and technologies.
For me, the outdated materials I use in my artwork represent threads that weave our past with our present—threads that disintegrate with the passage of time, both literally and figuratively. I layer textual materials and paint, wearing them back through sanding to represent the passage of time, a process that I repeat again and again, intentionally highlighting the abstract patterns, texture and color that emerge from that process. In my artwork I try to capture the feeling of instability and chaos that come with these rapid changes, counterbalanced with my innate desire for structure, order and calm.
“129 Ways: For Mary To Marry”
The “129 Ways” artwork featured in my space at Canopy and in my virtual show have their origins in a scrapbook created for a high school Home Economics class assignment in 1964. In the 50-page book entitled “Marital Notebook,” the student (Mary) meticulously described and illustrated with magazine clippings her ideal—albeit fictional—wedding and married life. The Table of Contents divided the book into seven parts: The Engagement, The Shower, The Trousseau, The Hope Chest, The Marriage, The Honeymoon, and The Home. The Notebook was graded and I am pleased to report that Mary received an A+ for her efforts. As Mrs. Dunlap her teacher assessed: “The man who gets you for a wife will be very lucky.”
I confess I was a bit stunned when I first looked at the book. This was a class assignment? Seriously? I was captivated by Mary’s choice of imagery and attention to detail (right down to the hotel where she would honeymoon and the décor of her children’s bedrooms). I was intrigued by the definition of marriage and the role of “wife” as seen through the eyes of a 1960s teenage girl. It made me consider my own definitions of these concepts and wonder how young women of my daughter’s generation approach this role.
I reimagined these concepts as layered, colorful, satirical tapestries to challenge the female stereotypes that continue to permeate pop culture and media. I do not intend to mock any of Mary’s or any young woman's beliefs or dreams. Rather, I hope “129 Ways” will provoke conversation about our current concept of marriage and how we define the roles assumed by women.