03 August 2007

personal mythologies and symbols

Meet Ingmar and Brigitte! They were enjoying their little foray into the backyard earlier and will be up at the shop tomorrow. You can see more photos of this duo here. Did you notice their little "capes?" I was inspired by a similar cape on this mantis here. (I totally love Igor's photography - the colors and the creatures are just amazing.)

Ingmar

Now, I have to touch on something that I've been meaning to discuss for some time now. It's funny to gauge our friends' reactions when they come over and see Manny hanging out (and over) a shelf in my work area. Everyone seems to project their own feelings about gender roles onto this innocent softie. It's strange to me because the truth of the matter is that I never thought too much about it, and when I made Manny and all his/her little counterparts, I never thought about the cultural, social, or sexual implications. For crunchy's sake, it's a toy! I thought it would be cool to take a normally creepy animal and make it all cute and squishy and huggable, especially because I have a fondness for this particular insect, which I will explain later. I have friends whose opinions I respect and who I consider to be intelligent people (hence, I respect their opinions) who try to analyze and "interpret" Manny. I have had friends (namely male) ask if Manny is a projection of my "man-eating" persona - uhhhhh, no, it isn't. I have another friend (female, for the record) who is obsessed with trying to figure Manny into the Matt+Maritza equation, as in, am I trying to dominate my husband, is this my way of saying I'm in charge, do I have a violent streak that I am not consciously aware of, do I secretly hate men, etc. etc. Jumping-jesus, man, what the? That is way more thought than I put into it. No, it is not a projection of my domineering persona, and no, I don't hen-peck, brow-beat, verbally, emotionally, nor physically torture my husband (although sometimes I whine about the dishes not being done *gasp!* I'm a monster!). The one that boggles my mind the most is a friend (also female, for the record) who was attempting to read a feminist angle into Manny. I am still confused as to what a predatory insect, the female of which does eat the male after coitus in order to have the necessary protein in her body for hatching hundreds of eggs later in their happy little oothecae, has anything to do with equal rights. Someone, please, break out the finger puppets and school me, because I am totally lost on that. Draw me diagrams if you must; I just don't get it. (By the way, this same friend concluded that Manny is a lesbian. Okaaaaaaayyy, well, good for Manny! Be proud, my little mantis friend.)

Brigitte

I will explain to you my own mythology regarding the mantis now, before anyone else assumes that I like to bite the heads off men, figuratively or literally. When I was a little girl, my mother was looking through some nature book with me, and when we came across a photo of a mantis, I was in awe of this bizarre looking creature. My mother explained to me that when I was a baby, there was a mantis on my crib. When she saw it and walked over to the crib to shoo it away, she noticed I was choking. She pointed out that if it hadn't been for the freakish bug, she would not have known what was going on. She then told me its name. In Puerto Rico, they call them "esperanzas," which is Spanish for "hope." So in my twisted little brain, this insect became a symbol of hope, beauty, and my own survival, not of violence or man-hating or anything else that all my friends keep projecting onto poor Manny. So that's it - I'm setting the record straight for anyone who may have that much crazy time on their hands that they may be theorizing. Manny and the rest of the manti are not political. They are not a projection. They just are....

Also, because I would hate to be a one-trick pony, these two are the last of the mini-manti I will putting up in the shop for a while. I am not saying that I'm not making any more mini-manti. I am making about a dozen or so for the Open Studio, and any that don't go then will go up in the shop later in September. I will be making and adding a ton more in the future, I hope. I'm just trying not to bore you guys with them is all. :)

Hope you're all having a great Friday night. Please stop by tomorrow and check out the shop update.

8 comments:

Stella said...

That is an excellent story. I already liked Manny, but now I love her/him/whatever even more.

Liz Harvatine said...

Well maybe I'm just not very deep but the whole cannibalistic insect thing never even occurred to me. I think that I am deep, I'm just so in tune with my fellow crafters that it's obvious that you were going for creepy crawly/soft and snuggly juxtaposition. Doesn't it drive you nuts when people try to read more into the things you do and then give you a hard time about it? I hate that!
PS Sweet story!

Laura said...

Thanks for your beautiful story. I like that he (or she) is about hope and beauty. A good toy for kids...inspiring hope and beauty.

diana said...

Yeah, it's pretty clear you're living in Cambridge. Sigh.

Love the story behind the mantis -- thanks for sharing that!

kris said...

hmm. your friends sure think a lot, don't they ;-)

Ashley said...

.....Manny's a GIRL?

Haley said...

why must people be so crazy about hidden meaning and politics and all that crap? the whole feminist lesbian manny? a little crazy. anyway, loved your story about the praying mantis. very cool.

AmberCake said...

Love your stuff, haven't commented much, but for heaven's sake, of all the places, Cambridge should be the place where they know the whole mate-and-eat thing was blown waaaaay out of proportion. Apparently, they mostly only do that when they're starving. In a lab. Having been starved by scientists looking for a specific result. When they have had access to normal nutrition, both mantises go on to live happy, fruitful post-coitus lives.

And your story? Really great, and every reason in the world to make such great little softies.