About the Series
For 50 cents at a garage sale, I bought a cookbook published in 1943, The Woman’s Home Companion Cookbook. The recipes and household suggestions come from the period in which conflicting expectations of women resulted in the burden of many roles, but this book was geared to middle- and upper- middleclass conventional mainstream homemakers.
The book sets the context: a conventional, married female with family as the cook and center of the home, wartime shortages necessitating the thrifty use of ingredients at hand, and an emphasis upon nutrition with aesthetic presentation. The numerous recipes evidence a slight nod to regionalism, but little to indicate the multitude of ethnic influences already a part of North American food preparation.
I Scream 13X17 Mixed Media on board
Blueplate Special 16X20
Mixed Media on board
My series explores some of the assumptions made by the book’s editors and the culture of the early 1940s and I have portrayed some of the conflicting roles expected of women of the time, including the resulting repressed anger experienced by some.
While a small number of women were recruited to work in wartime industry (Rosie the Riveter), most had few career options and continued to be defined by their ability to create a home and family, run a household, and to provide money-saving, delicious, attractive, nutritious meals.
I have used a variety of mixed media treatments from selected parts of this cookbook: book cover and binding, individual recipes, food and preparation technique pictures and text. I chose collage and paint as the best way to incorporate these elements. Although I’ve used several conventional canvases, in most cases I’ve used supports recycled from garage sales and thrift shops (and in one case, sewn) in keeping with the shortages of the 1940s and with my own philosophy of re-use.