Let Your Purse Do The Talking

Loving this series of purses by artist Michele Pred, which are embellished with powerful feminist slogans. Especially potent are the items decorated with expired birth control pills, a response to the many negative attitudes toward birth control that have stubbornly persisted since the pill became available in the early 1960s.

For the series, called “Promote the General Welfare,” which is the first line of the US Constitution, Pred took vintage purses in lots of different colors and styles and emblazoned them with slogans made either from neon, or from electroluminescent wire twisted and bent to get a similar effect.

She says: “Each unique piece is made using a vintage handbag from the 1950s or ‘60s. For me, the use of purses from the mid-twentieth century harks back to that critical era, and reminds us how much has changed and, more importantly, how much has not. The purses are meant to be carried and serve as small-scale political billboards.”

Michele Pred_1

Damn straight it is! (“My Body My Business #2,” 2015, EL Wire on Vintage Purse, 14″ x 13″ x 3″)

Michele Pred_equality

We all want it… (“Equality,” 2015, EL Wire on Vintage Purse, 10″ x 15″ x 4″)

Michele Pred_choice

Made using a Joseph Magnin Patent Leather purse (one of the artist’s favorites), this piece represents women’s economical power and serves as a mobile small-scale billboard (“Pred-à-Porter Pro-Choice # 11,” 2014, EL Wire on Vintage Purse, 9″ x 9.5″ x 3.5″, edition of 48)

Michele Pred_access

The artist put approximately 25,000 expired birth control pills in this purse to “express the challenges many women have accessing affordable birth control” (“ACCESS,” 2015, Expired Birth control pills, EL Wire, Vintage lucite purse, enamel, 9″ x 9″ x 5″)

Michele Pred_era

The text is written in candy pink, birth control tablets. The piece “challenges the viewer to consider how things have advanced over the last 50 or 60 years. Today women’s reproductive rights are still frequently under fire and remain mired in debate.” (“Equal Rights Amendment,” 2013, Birth Control Pills, vintage purse, enamel, 13″ x 12.5″ x 3″)

Michele Pred_pills

“I use expired, unwanted and placebo birth control pills as an expression of my frustration over the continuing and growing impediments to fair, safe and affordable access to birth control and other women’s services in the United States,” says Pred. “A large part of my art-making process lies in the research, the countless personal interactions, and places I go. For this project, I have spoken with and visited numerous Women’s clinics, public health clinics, pill recycling drop off areas, and drug manufacturers. I have traveled to pick up large boxes of pills and found very small packages in my mailbox. Each encounter helped shape my views and vision for the piece.” (“American Tourister,” 2013, Birth Control Pills, Vintage Hat Case, enamel and varnish)

Michele Pred is represented by the Nancy Hoffman Gallery in New York. All images from michelepred.com.


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