I chose purses as my canvas as a way to marry the powerful, politically charged language of today’s resistance with representations of women’s modern economic power and the possibilities for change that come with it. For me, the use of purses from the mid-twentieth century also calls back to that critical era in the women’s movement and reminds us how much power we have to effect meaningful change.
The title of Power of the Purse was inspired by the 2017 passage of Republican tax reform and its far-reaching negative implications for women’s rights. It is also a call to action for women, and men, to redouble their efforts to fight the growth of moneyed privileged and show up at the polls.
This body of work is rooted in my formative years growing up in Berkeley, California during the 1970s, where I was exposed to the women’s movement. It is also a continued homage to my father, Professor Allan Pred who inspired the feminist in me at an early age.
Michele Pred is a Swedish-American conceptual artist whose practice includes sculpture, assemblage, and performance. Her work uncovers the cultural and political meaning behind everyday objects, with a concentration on feminist themes such as equal pay, reproductive rights, and personal security. After 9/11, she explored the intersection of personal space and security using thousands of airport-confiscated items. She used a similar number of expired birth control pills to delve into the cultural background of the fight for reproductive rights and continues to drive conversations around the economic and political struggle for women’s rights with her modified vintage handbag editions. Pred’s latest projects have expanded on the social components that drive the conversation into public spaces. She organized Parade against Patriarchy in Miami Beach during Art Basel 2017 and led We Vote, an art and social justice parade in New York City designed to coincide with the 2018 midterm elections. In 2019, she organized Civil Discourse, an art-based interactive project during Miami Art week. Pred is represented by the Nancy Hoffman Gallery in New York. Her work is part of the permanent museum collections at the 9/11 Museum, the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, the Berkeley Art Museum, and the Honolulu Museum of Art. She has also been exhibited at museums and galleries across the world.