Special day, 2021
Acrylic on canvas. 18” x 24”
Studio Arts, Concordia University
Wendy-Alexina Vancol’s Special Day explores the inner dreams of a girl who grew up sharing, and the impact such sharing has made on the woman she is today. With four siblings, Vancol was taught from an early age the importance of sharing: clothes, space, and even birthdays were split between the five children. Vancol’s painting depicts a young girl who, for one brief moment, doesn’t have to share. The anthropomorphic balloon forms give a celebratory and festive air to the occasion. The hands may attempt to grab at her cake, and the balloon heads may attempt to blow out her candles, but young Vancol is ruthless in her defense of her special moment. Using humour to accentuate her defiance, she offers an image of what it looks like to take control.
After being taught for centuries to keep quiet and meek, women like Vancol
are realizing the power held in their voices. Women have been conditioned
not to counter anyone, and to take up as little space as possible. We are
retaking control of our time and space, centring ourselves in our lives.
Birthdays are supposed to be the one day we have for ourselves, where we can
be the focal point of our existence. Sharing a birthday, then, can damage
our ability to feel empowered. When we give ourselves attention, like Vancol
does for her younger self, we can find a renewed sense of confidence which
propels us towards a more independent future.