When I read that the 2018 theme for National Women’s History Month was Nevertheless She Persisted, referring to Mitch McConnell’s attempt to silence Elizabeth Warren from speaking in Congress, this piece became, for me, the perfect celebration of women’s courage and persistence in the fight for equality and respect. The monster is modelled after Mitch McConnell, whose amphibian hands are grabbing the knights as they fight to destroy him. But the monster, of course, doesn’t begin or end with him. We have witnessed women warriors coming out in droves to courageously name their abusers in public, offering themselves up to be national objects of mistrust and degradation. And through this, we see the extent of the oppression that exists today. But we persist, and in the future it may be the strength of women and the men who love, respect and support them, who depose a sexually abusive misogynist from office for trying to silence them.
Let’s be clear: this struggle of women for equality is ancient and global, and the women warriors I’ve portrayed in this piece have ancient Greek soldier, British knight, and Chinese warrior attributes in their armour and helmets. The monster reeks of the mythological dragon in Greek and Christian mythology (…think Saint George and the Dragon) who hoards all the gold in the village, keeping the villagers poor and destitute. In the middle ages, dragons came to embody humanity’s worst traits as described by Christian texts: the cardinal vices. Among them: Pride, Wrath, Greed, Gluttony, and Lust. Dragons were obsessed with princesses and gold. Many creatures of old are said to do bad things to promiscuous young women or seduce/entrance women in general. Women are handed the victim card, in order to keep them in line.
I want my work to bear witness and tell stories of progress happening now. In this painting, though the struggle continues, women are not waiting to be saved from the dragon by a hero. Women ARE the heroes!
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Niki Singleton is a Canadian drawer, painter, and found material sculptor based in Brooklyn. Visit her website to learn more.