Mary Lovelace O’Neal made this print during a six-month printmaking residency in Paris. During this time, she experienced one of the coldest Paris winters of the century. The print’s title references Paris’ nickname as the City of Lights. The deep blues and blacks evoke the dreary atmosphere of the city during O’Neal’s actual time there. Two white corset-like shapes float in the center of the composition. These are reminiscent of O’Neal’s earlier works, such as the Desert Woman series. During a printmaking residency in Morocco, O’Neal became interested in how the women she encountered subverted strict dress restrictions through unique undergarments. She similarly explores women’s dress in Dark Days in the Abundant Blue Light of Paris. Here, however, O’Neal explores the history of Western restrictive garments: corsets. The corsets float as white ghosts haunting Paris, the capital of fashion and romance in the Western imagination. O’Neal subtly suggests that women’s underwear, despite being deeply private, can also bear multiple social meanings, from misogynistic constraint to personal empowerment.
Mary Lovelace O'Neal, American, born 1942
Dark Days in the Abundant Blue Light of Paris, 1995
Screen print on paper
Gift of the Women's Studies Program WSU