+

When Felice House moved to Texas from Massachusetts, she quickly fell in love with "Western" culture.

Photo by Timothy Douglas, used with permission.

House, a painter and artist, moved to Austin to study for her master's degree before becoming an assistant professor of painting at Texas A&M University.


At first, the culture shock was fun. House says she quickly became infatuated with the Western genre: the outfits, the cowboy boots, the music.

"But when I actually got around to watching Western movies," she adds, "I was horrified by the roles for ... anybody except white men basically."

The stoic renegades played by John Wayne, James Dean, and Clint Eastwood stood in stark contrast to the helpless damsels they shared the screen with. The empowered and the powerless.

House had spent much of her career painting women in ways that clashed with media representations, so she decided to tackle the male-dominated Western genre.

She put out a call for models and was quickly overwhelmed with women who wanted to participate.

All images by Felice House, used with permission.

House says many of the models already knew which iconic cowboy they wanted to portray.

Virginia Schmidt became "Virginia Eastwood."

Then there was "Liakesha Dean."

And "Rebekah Wayne."

House first photographed the models in Western getups, then painted from the images she captured.

She also says practicing the facial expressions and body language was the hardest part for the models.

"Women are kind of trained to make coy, approachable facial expressions," she says.

Turning these women into iconic and powerful heroes meant stripping away any remnants of the "sexy cowgirl" trope.

The paintings themselves are larger than life. Roughly 1.25 times larger, to be specific.

"When you see them in person, people are surprised by the scale." People aren't used to women towering over them, House says.

And that's exactly the point. House wanted to start a conversation about who is assigned power and how we view it.

In that sense, the timing couldn't have been better. "Issues with gender and power in the U.S. are kind of in the forefront of people's minds, " she says.

In the very beginning of the project, House says she simply digitally clipped one of the models heads and put it on John Wayne's body.

"It looked ridiculous," she says with a laugh. "But then I thought, what if I could find a way to give this same sense of power [that iconic male heroes have] to women?"

With a brush and a few massive canvases, she managed to do just that, and she hopes it'll make a few people think differently about how we define who can be a hero.

In the meantime, and despite her criticisms of the films of yesteryear, House says pop culture is getting better at representing women. Projects like this one definitely help.

After all, it was John Wayne himself who once said, "Tomorrow hopes we have learned something from yesterday."

Celebrity

U.S. Soccer star expertly handles an Iranian reporter’s loaded questions about race.

Tyler Adams’s response proves exactly why he’s the captain of the US soccer team.

Tyler Adams expertly handles Iranian reporter's question

Reporters are supposed to ask the right questions to get to the truth but sometimes it seems sports reporters ask questions to throw you off your game. There's no doubt that this Iranian reporter who was questioning Tyler Adams, the US soccer team captain at the press conference during the World Cup had an agenda that didn't involve getting to the truth.

It's not clear if the questions were designed to throw the young player off of his game or if the goal was embarrassment. It really is hard to tell, but Adams handled the unexpectedly harsh encounter with intelligence and poise when some may have found it justified for him to get angry.

Keep ReadingShow less
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash
woman holding a cup of tea, writing in a notebook

It's no secret that everyone could use a little kindness in their lives and it can come in many forms. Sometimes it's the neighbor cutting your grass when your husband's away and you're too busy to get to it yourself. Other times it's sending a card to the elderly widow down the street.

One woman in Arkansas has taken to spreading kindness through writing letters to strangers. Allison Bond, 25, started writing letters over a year ago during COVID-19 when she couldn't attend school due to her medical condition. Bond has cerebral palsy and is at greater risk for serious illness should she contract the virus. Writing letters was an act of kindness that didn't require a trip out of the house.

Bond began by writing to soldiers and inmates. In fact, the first letter she received back was from a soldier. Bond told 5News, "I have one framed from a soldier. He had all his battle buddies sign it. So I framed it so I could put it up." She's kept every letter she's received.

Keep ReadingShow less

"Time is the one thing we cannot increase.”

Over his seven years as host of “The Daily Show,” Trevor Noah brought us laughter and valuable insights, even with a pandemic and political upheaval. He made such a positive mark that the announcement of his departure from the show came as bittersweet news to fans.

During an interview with Hoda Kotb of “Today,” Trevor Noah gave further explanation to his personal decision to leave, and in typical Noah fashion, it touched on something universal in the process.

“I realized during the pandemic,” he told Kotb, “everyone talks about a ‘work-life balance.’ But that almost creates the idea that your work and your life are two separate things. When in fact, I came to realize during the pandemic that it’s just a ‘life-life balance.’ It’s just your life.”

Keep ReadingShow less

Phil Collins and George Harrison

This article originally appeared on 12.01.21


Beatle George Harrison was pigeon-holed as the "Quiet Beatle," but the youngest member of the Fab Four had an acerbic, dry sense of humor that was as sharp as the rest of his bandmates.

He gave great performances in the musical comedy classics, "A Hard Days Night" and "Help!" while holding his own during The Beatles' notoriously anarchic press conferences. After he left the band in 1970, in addition to his musical career, he would produce the 1979 Monty Python classic, "The Life of Brian."

Keep ReadingShow less