Stephanie Todhunter

Massachusetts, USA

Houston, We Have a Problem by Stephanie Todhunter
40"x40"; digital and analog collage, acrylic paint, oil pastel and spray paint on canvas; 2021

Stephanie Todhunter credits her upbringing by a second wave feminist as contributing to her interest in creating art with political feminist overtones, and her GenX identity as furnishing her with an interest in sparking conversations about responsibility and gender roles. Although her themes can be intense, sometimes even including a streak of ferocity or violence, she will often draw a viewer in with her use of bright colors, quirky details, and elements of pop art, creating an appealing sense of play before the darker undertones make themselves evident.

In Houston, We Have A Problem, Todhunter uses many of these same strategies to comment on the recent Texas legislation banning abortion and encouraging vigilantism. In detailing her collage, she writes:

“Inspired by the recently passed Texas law banning nearly all abortions, I used vintage images from children’s coloring books, paint-by-number books, comics, and current images from newspapers and magazines to evoke the feeling that in terms of a woman’s right to control her own body and health, American society is slowly regressing to an older, more conservative and restrictive time.

“I also like to use irony, humor, and bright colors to highlight the often absurd qualities of being a woman in contemporary American society. Thus The Mission Control Center (in Houston, Texas) is manned by male clones in their bright blue NASA jammies—an all-boys club naively attempting to control what they are seeing on their screens.

“In my work I often use images from NASA and the American ‘space race’ to symbolize the ongoing struggle of women to overcome the archaic attitudes and restrictions of a male-dominated society. The Lost Cosmonaut in her spacesuit represents isolation and estrangement, but also insulation and protection from the world. Skylab imagery invokes feelings of impending doom…Rocket-ships represent male aggression and dominance, the moon represents barrenness and sterility, and alien plant-life represents the terrifying otherness of female reproductive parts.

“Think what could be accomplished if all that time, money, political power and hysteria surrounding female reproduction were instead directed towards improving the humankind basics of healthcare, education, infrastructure, climate change, immigration and income disparity. The pro-life movement is not about protecting women and children. It is about political opportunity and control.”