Drill Team Time

I've got an upcoming art show, and the reception is tomorrow. The work in it is sort of complicated: pretty simple and straightforward at first glance but full of detail when you look closer. Making the artwork for this show was mentally exhausting. In addition to technical decisions and deliberation over where the next flower, thread, or figure should go, it had me doing a lot of personal contemplation, too.

The Longview High School Viewettes

One of the  pieces in the show is about high school drill teams. The girls I knew in them were always so nice, and their coach had an amazing reputation for hard work and integrity that was instilled in her team. What stuck out to me, though, was that of all the social groups in my school, this was the one where you saw at least some Hispanic and Latina participants. Even though Hispanic and Latino students were a majority in my school they weren't very visible in the band, majorettes, cheerleading squad, or the football team.

Image taken from TROPICALIZER.

When I saw this image of the Virgin of Guadalupe, it all came together for me with her purity, the roses, and thinking about my upbringing and expectations of what a Southern lady should be. Women have to walk a balance between standards of class and beauty while exuding dignity and chastity in the South. Drill teams are the embodiment of that balance. The students don't wear much, and what with the fringe, the dancing, and all of those legs, in any other context it would be burlesque; in the drill team, it is disciplined choreography. These young women display feats of discipline and strength, all with a brilliant smile on their face.

 Students of all backgrounds come to the drill team. It is where they are seen, and where they can show just how amazing they are. So here's my nod to all of those fine ladies I knew that were in the drill team, and to the remarkable balance of the Southern Woman that is so difficult to achieve.

J.N. Ward, Their Time To Shine. 2016. 19" x 30". Acrylic, colored pencil, embroidery floss, graphite, ink, paper, and watercolor pencil on plywood.


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