San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

What Are Modern-day Girls’ Dreams?

AT first glance, one would think thatNina Surel’s pieces would be the perfectaccompaniment for any young girl’s bedroom,complete with pictures of princesses,teddy bears, rabbits, and paper-doll cutouts.However, at closer analysis one seesthese traditional feminine touches may notbe what modern-day girls’ dreams aremade of these days.Surel’s artwork asks us to take that secondlook and truly delve into the rolesgirls assume as they become women. Oneof the 13 pieces on display at the GaleríaGDS is “Figure 2.” This piece quite literallyscreams at the idea of the great dividebetween masculine and feminine forcesthrough the symbolism of two types ofshoes: one masculine, which seems to representthe working or businessman’s shoe,and the other feminine, symbolizing the“pretty,” dainty role the woman is apparentlysupposed to play.THIS struggle between classic feminineand masculine roles is constantthroughout all of Surel’s 13 pieces. Thedisparity between men’s and women’slives is most surely reflected in a comparisonbetween “The House Keeper” and“Tu.”“The House Keeper” displays a womanall in black with what seems like a largestaff of responsibility contrasted by a pinkand white background. The symbolism inthis picture is quite intriguing, with adepiction of a small house with a large keyinside its frame. One gets a trapped, jail-likefeeling.On the other hand, “Tu,” in this case“tu” referring to the man of the family,expresses a feeling of freedom and lack ofresponsibility. In a sense, the man can havehis cake and eat it too. This idea is visualizedin the way his bow tie is removedfrom his body while silver spoons dance allaround him. Clearly, Surel does not appreciatethe restrictions placed on the femalegender.ISN’T it every girl’s dream to get marriedand have children? Surel recognizesthat there is more to this dream than meetsthe eye. Her constant symbolism of fertilityby way of a rabbit is quite telling. In“Tea Party,” a young girl in pink is holdinga rabbit. The alarming aspect of the piece isthat she has no face. Does this mean thatshe has no identity? Or perhaps an identityforced upon her at a young age while shewas innocently playing dress-up and teaparty, heedless of the fact that this was layingthe groundwork for her identity.PICTURING predominantly younggirls in a traditional showcase, Surel bringsto light that the foundation for who one isto become is paved early. Surel’s work iseye-catching, intuitively on target, andchallenges its viewers to take that secondlook and question the portrayal of femalesymbols, roles and dreams. Girls’ bedrooms,I think not. Put these symbolicpieces in the front room for all to see anddiscuss. These pictures demand to beappreciated, recognized and learned from.Nina Surel’s work can be viewed untilthe middle of February at the Galería GDSin the Multicentro Paco, Escazú.December, viewings are by appointmentonly. For information, call Alexia Dumaniat 380-4134 or Felipe Seidner at 386-8591.

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