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Everyone loves the Wild Wild West! But how many of us actually were inspired enough by the west that we did something with it?
Felice House, a painter and artist, fell in love with the ‘Western’ culture when she came to Texas from Massachusetts. She moved to Austin to get her Master’s Degree and later became an assistant professor at the Texas A&M University.
She quickly fell in love with everything western—the outfits, cowboy boots, and the music.
“But when I actually got around to watching Western movies,” she adds, “I was horrified by the roles for… anybody except white men basically.”
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#1 Virginia Wayne
#2 Liakesha Wayne
She noticed that the damsels are painfully powerless in contrast to characters played by John Wayne, James Dean, and Clint Eastwood. After spending much of her professional life painting women that clashed with media representations, she decided to take the male-dominated Western Culture head-on.
#3 Virgina Eastwood
#4 Liakesha Dean
An overwhelming number of models wanted to participate in this project! More surprisingly, most of the models were set on wanting to portray the role of the cowboy.
#5 Rebekah Wayne
#6 Wayne Searchers
The models had some difficulties replicating the facial expressions. House said women are trained to make approachable facial expressions. Turning them into iconic heroes meant tearing away the ‘sexy cowgirl’ image.
#7 Julia Dean
#8 Krimmie Crowe
She first photographed the models and later painted larger-than-life size paintings from those images. The paintings are 1.5 times larger to be specific and quite intimidating.
#9 Open Range
#10 Liakesha Cooper
“When you see them in person, people are surprised by the scale.” People aren’t used to women towering over them, House says.
And that’s exactly the point.
#11 Stasha Dean
#12 Virginia Banderas
With her brush and canvas, she hopes that the people will think differently about how we define heroes.
#13 Julia Dean
Due to projects like this, pop culture is getting better with the representation of women. After all, it was John Wayne himself who once said, “Tomorrow hopes we have learned something from yesterday.”
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