by Ahjeiza Adrian, Harper Benitez, Siri Palreddy, Noemi Villaparedes
Pages 2 and 3 of 19
The Wives of the 50's
Curated by Ahjeiza Adrian, Harper Benitez, Siri Palreddy, Noemi Villaparedes
Our exhibit traces the story of four bold and dangerous women living in 1950’s New Haven, Alice, Kathleen, Maria, and Nancy. The common thread, which binds them together, is that they are all housewives trapped in toxic and unfair marriages with their husbands. They have no control over their own lives until they decide as a group to set themselves free and kill their husbands.
These women were defined as merely wives for most of their lives — their interests and ambitions were ignored by their husbands. The women themselves lost some of their self-worth due to being in such power imbalanced relations. While extreme, by murdering their husbands, Alice, Nancy, Maria, and Kathleen rediscovered themselves in a society where women weren’t meant to prioritize themselves and their identities over serving their husbands.
Title and Afterword of The Art of Lipstick Pamphlet Published in 1957 Written by GiGi LingGal
A popular book in the 1950’s, which had been circulating within New Haven. It reached the ladies via Maria’s husband, David, who recommended they read the writing for their book club meeting. The pamphlet is definitively sexist and advises women to live only for the purpose of finding and serving their husbands. The afterword of this work displays the impossible and superficial demands society placed on women in the 20th century.
Who They Were
Q-Tips & Cotton Balls Recovered from the vanity of Alice Lee in 2018
Portrait of Alice Drawn in 1953 Pencil and Parchment Sketch Artist: Maria
These makeup removers were a staple in Alice's routine, which included social gatherings her husband Roy Lee forced her to attend and appear "presentable" at.
Alice liked the simpler things in life — she never cared for makeup and wasn’t one to follow the latest magazines. Maria’s line sketch of Alice reflects her straightforward and unembellished personality.
Ch 1: Befriending the Mirror "Your beauty is your only contribution to society."
Quote Page 2 of The Art of Lipstick
Crimson-tipped low-heels Donated by Kathleen's adoptive daughter
Portrait of Kathleen Drawn in 1953 Charcoal sketch Artist: Maria
A set of stylish crimson-tipped low-heels which Kathleen received as a birthday gift from Alice.
Kathleen was a stylish woman, though her husband didn't think such vanity was fit for potential mothers. Her adoptive daughter remembers her as being spontaneous and colorful, though she often donned red over any other hue.
Ch 4: Caring for the Children "As a mother, you are responsible for the children and their wellbeing."
Quote Page 5 of The Art of Lipstick
Self-portrait of Maria Drawn in 1953 Watercolor painting Artist: Maria
Cutout of Duncan Hines Instant Cake Recipes Donated by the Charles Family Found pinned in Maria's private chest
According to Maria's sister, who has passed as of 2020, yellow reminded Maria of sunshine, and she wore it despite David's protests that it was a garish color.
In moments of frustration with her husband, Maria would use these recipes, likely because of David's aversion to wives who were "too lazy to cook real food" (quote acquired from memory of David's nephew).
Ch 2: Taming the Kitchen "Your home's kitchen should be your safe haven, the only place where you can make your husband truly happy."