Superpower Women in Space
Superpower Women in Space is an ongoing series that started in the fall of 2018. Yearning to escape earthly issues and conflict, I found breathing room in space. In this work, I have created a fictional single-gender society and used it as a platform for female empowerment. In my photomontages, women stand confidently on planets, in situations heroic, surreal, or fantastical. These women exert control over compositions, space territory, with strong bodies and spirit. Blending NASA and vintage images, op art, and fashion along with my own original photographs I have created a realm where forward-thinking women are in charge, and there’s a trap door to Earth if you get out of line.
Review by Clare Hall Spring 2020
Space: the final frontier. A place where jurisdiction, ethics, and social order are all called into question. An alien place where brave women populate multiverses outside the boundaries of time and physical laws. In Paula Gillen’s series, Super Power Women in Space, complex, quirky, multi-media masterpieces explore narratives that transcend earthly constrictions. For Gillen, this body of work began as a way to escape the chaotic and claustrophobic social-political climate that she was experiencing here on earth. Her inventive pieces are oftentimes spotted with humor and pop-culture to transport the viewer to an extraterrestrial dimension of imagination.
Since their conception, these collages have grown to encompass narratives of race, gender, and power. Gillen’s work has always been rooted in feminism and here we see a continuation of that exploration through the omission of men as subjects. Feminism in the past has often been exclusionary of women of color, but Gillen demonstrates the ways in which art can continue to advocate for diversity in feminism and representation for women of color. Furthermore, the subjects that are represented are multifaceted and their identity is not confined to a single interpretation, mirroring the layers of complexity in each collage itself. Women in this series have limitless room to explore their identity in Gillen’s lawless space--a no man’s land.