by Sergio Garcia
Sandra Chevrier is a Canadian artist that has received international acclaim as the mastermind behind a series titled, Cages. This series is composed of various pieces that feature the faces of women looking toward the viewer. However, the woman’s face is draped in a collage featuring cutouts from comic books. By amalgamating paint and comic book cutouts, she creates pieces of art that are not only visually stunning, but can be dissected in ways that reveal profound meaning. Fortunately for us, Los Angeles hosts one of these spectacular pieces.
As I was driving down Vermont, this piece stuck out to me, and I had to pullover to admire it fully. When I stepped out of my car and allowed myself to revel in the mural, I couldn’t help but appreciate the sheer brilliance of Chevrier’s piece. While the main focus of the piece is the woman with a mask of comic book cutouts, Chevrier has also included a comic book type caption, complete with a yellow background, and a thick black outline surrounding the art, resulting in a mural that perfectly resembles a comic book panel.
However, it remains clear that the main focus of the mural is the woman’s face. And Chevrier has made it possible for us, as viewers, to read the emotions of the subject through the eyes that she’s painted. The woman looks forward, displaying a strong and fierce attitude. She does not have the look of a coward. Instead, she boldly and fearlessly seems ready to take on whatever comes her way. This emotion depicted on the woman’s face parallels the comic book that Chevrier has chosen to serve as a mask.
Using pages from one of Superman’s most iconic storylines, Chevrier has imbued her art with deep meaning. The narrative of Superman(Vol. 2) #75 is about Superman trying to protect Earth from one of the greatest threats he ever encountered, a supervillain known as Doomsday. The epic battle that ensues between these two superpowered entities ultimately leads to Superman’s death, despite the fact that he succeeds in defeating Doomsday. But why has Chevrier chosen these final panels depicting the annihilation of Superman and Doomsday to cover up this woman’s face?
The answer to that question, at least for me, stems from the fact that women are held to high standards in today’s world. They are idealized and expected to conform to strict, gendered social standards. Women today find themselves immersed in lofty expectations. Similarly, Superman is expected to be the most infallible superhero. People assume that he is indestructible, that he stands for truth, justice, and the American way; he is often portrayed as the archetypal boy scout. These standards that are applied women and Superman are simply unreasonable. And it seems as though Chevrier has chosen comic book panels that display Superman in positions of compromise, fragility, and struggle for that very reason. By displaying the weaknesses and flaws of a superhero, Chevrier reminds us that women, who are only human at their core, can struggle to find freedom from the contrived and distorted expectations that our society imposes on them.
Where can I find it?
You can find this mural in University Park at the intersection of Vermont Avenue and West 25th Street.
Tommy Jarrell is a poet, writer, and artist who lives in Los Angeles. He has previously written for Bleacher Report and Throwback. His poems have appeared in The Squaw Valley Review and 805.