My Stenciled Wall Piece Mopping Up

by JoAnne McFarland in Choosing Subject Matter
A couple of years ago I started stenciling directly onto the walls of my studio space. The act feels very meditative; there’s a rhythm to it that’s incredibly soothing. I use a neutral palette—gray, beige, and cream. In this way the lettering resembles the ‘ghost type’ I use in a lot of my poems, especially the ones that employ two voices.

Clairol Commercials from the ’60s

When I was growing up, hair commercials were a staple of television. There was a tyranny to these messages that suggested being blonde was the ultimate in beauty.
In my wall piece Mopping Up I’ve incorporated two Clairol slogans from that time period:
Is it true blondes haves more fun? Why not be a blonde and see?
If I only have one life to live, let me live it as a blonde.

Expanding Roles For Black Women

Until fairly recently, it was common for black women to be portrayed as maids, or caretakers for whites in many American movies and tv shows. In Mopping Up I contrast maid and made, the first embodying being at someone’s whim, the other alluding to agency of one’s own.
The mop itself, which I made out of blonde hairpieces, is the tool for clearing away detritus from the past.