Wyoming Arts Council

My kingdom for a functional, great-looking, easy-to-find-something-in, cool, stylish…

An interesting exhibit at the Wyoming State Museum right now is pocketbook anthropology, a collection of 50 handbags by artists, artisan and designers from around the world. Leila Hadley Luce’s words, writer and former cartoon editor for the Saturday Evening Post, open the dialogue about this exhibit: “One’s handbag is an extension of self, persona and personality.”

A woman’s purse is one of the most valuable possessions she has. Remember the man purse on Friends? Rachel convinced Joey that he’d get the part he was trying out for because he would exude charisma and confidence. Whether or not all the females out there who carry purses feel that amount of confidence in this seemingly necessary wardrobe accompaniment, the museum exhibit features a diverse selection of collectible, nostalgic, interpretive and iconic examples of that leading fashion accessory that would lend a distinctive finish to any chic girl’s (or guy’s) outfit.

Purses from left to right, top to bottom:
1. Artist: Mary Francis, Fairy Dance, 2005; satin, glass beads, stones, sequins, metal and leather; Courtesy of the artist.
2. Artist unknown: possible example of prison art; Cigarette Pack Purse; Folded American cigarette packs. (blog editor’s note: remember when you used to fold gum wrappers into this shape and make chains with them? Same principle here.)
3. Plyones Design Lucas, Pink Watering Can, ca. 2000; plastic; private collection.
4. Artist unknown: Decopauged Train Case, ca. 1955; wood, paper, metal and plastic; courtesy Elizabeth Boggs.
5. Artist unknown: Alligator Purse, ca. 1940s; Alligator skin, alligator claws, leather and metal; Courtesy Leslie Pelzer.
6. Artist: Janet Cooper, 1990s; Fabric, vintage bottle caps, and bead chain; private collection.
7. Pansy-design, glass beaded purse; artist unknown, ca. 1920s; from the private collection of Cada McCoy.
8. Floral design, glass beaded purse; artist unknown; ca. 1900s; from the private collection of Dora Appel Handel.

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