First Lady has always been interested in taking fragments of the past and integrating them in the present.
"I was always taught that you have to get everything down on paper before you start creating, but my brain doesn't work like that. I just started creating and then more ideas came." says First Lady.
In an incredible year-long mission, a whole community of over 500 ladies were made. Some from crafted objects that she has stitched, crocheted, embroided and knitted. Othere are created from discarded objects such as washers, doorknobs and printer heads, remnants of our industrial and technological society. These cannibalised parts have been used to create 500 unique individuals wearning contemporary fashions, so the ladies carry these remnants of past generations into the 21st century.
Each lady combines contradictory elements. They are both manufactured and crafted, soft and hard, old and new. Because the traditional craft techniques and manufactured elements are recognisable to both men and women, they give us an insight into our collective past and memories. "The ladies have a shared history or DNA, but hopefully they also elicit fond memories in others." says First Lady. "It's great when someone views them, points out one of them, and says 'my grandmother had one of those hour glasses' or 'I had a tea towel like that when I was young'. They are bringing back a memory the otherwise wouldn't have.
However, while respecting and honouring traditional female roles, 500 Ladies also blurs and merges stereotypical ideas of male and female work. The combination of crafted and manufactured objects highlights the similiarities between men and women, rather than their differences, in that they have both had a role in creating objects anda role as a means of creation.
Although all the ladies are distinct individuals, and cna be thought of as representing the huge variety of roles for women in contemporary society, from mothers to doctors and from engineers to artists, they all have an extremely feminine persona. One lady has a large black plug for her head, yet is clad in a very sophisticated long cream and black dress with a polka dot panel. Her hands and feet, made of square wooden beads, are marked with the electrical current abbreviations AC and DC. Another lady that has a computer key for her head wears a lacy white dress. The contemporary women of 500 Ladies can be whoever they want to be and, collectively, make a positive statement about what the future will look like.
The ladies are independent, the are confident and they have a voice.