The most commercially successful superhero stories often feature men as their lead. It's an image of power that is rarely extended to women. This idea has been perpetuated throughout the media for centuries.
The imagery of paper dolls represents the cultural view that girls and women are two-dimensional objects subject to the whims of others. Meanwhile, superheroes are looked to as leaders and decision-makers.
Haynes’ wanted to turn these ideas around and place young girls in positions of leadership. By painting them as superheroes it celebrates the power within them to shift the culture and the society they have been born into. Like all women of today, they seek equality and the need to be seen for all they are. Haynes’ intent is for the viewer to feel her power, her confidence and to recognize her birthright; her human right.
The young girls in this series are from the Tchukudu Kids Home in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
I began reworking a painting I had begun a few months earlier the day after the United States Presidential Inauguration. With tears running down my face and a lump stuck in my throat, I listened to the words of grace and courage by Amanda Gorman.
She is the age of my own children. She represents potential and hope for our global future.
As she spoke "a skinny Black girl descended from slaves and raised by a single mother can dream of becoming President", I thought of the 140 children cared for at the Tchukudu Kids Home. I want all the world’s children to have such big dreams. Making sure they have the support, infrastructure and opportunities to fulfill those dreams rest on all our shoulders. We can all do better.
When day comes we step out of the shade,
aflame and unafraid,
the new dawn blooms as we free it.
For there is always light,
if only we're brave enough to see it.
If only we're brave enough to be it.
- excerpt from 'The Hill We Climb' by Amanda Gorman
- 42" x 60"
- mixed media