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Meet Oakland Artist Michele Pred

Handbags, tiaras, birth control pills, bullets, and other unexpected items she uses to make political and social statements.


Drew Altizer Photography

Michele Pred’s artwork is charged.

Literally: Her vintage handbags light up or flash. And symbolically: Political purses proclaim vote, pro-choice, or equality—serving as miniature, feminist billboards.

The Oakland-based artist also ventures into emblematic expression with her Homeland Security wall and floor pieces, which feature flags, crosses, and hearts. They are made with items confiscated by airport officials at the San Francisco International Airport: corkscrews, knives, razor blades, scissors, matchboxes, and more. Here, patriotism, oppression, and terrorism commingle. A recent flag composed of enamel-coated bullets in red, white, and black—not blue—is 21st-century protest art. “I can’t avoid making artwork about the violence today,” says Pred. “Especially violence against black men. I can’t ignore that.”

by Michele Pred

The world can’t ignore Pred, either. Her work is in the permanent collections at New York’s 9/11 Memorial Museum, the Fashion Institute of Technology, and Napa’s di Rosa Collection, plus other museums, galleries, and collections worldwide.

It’s not easy to label Pred’s work, considering that it branches from handbags to bullet flags and veers to a much-acclaimed tiara adorned in birth control pills named Miss Conception. There’s even 2-D bar code art that sends a text message from Pred once it’s scanned.

by Don Felton

Her visibility may rise further if Hillary Clinton carries the vote purse an acquaintance of the presidential candidate recently snapped up in Chicago. “It was on display but wasn’t for sale,” says Pred. “But when the buyer told me she wanted to give it to Hillary, I had to sell it.”

Pred’s Encirclement (2003) is part of the exhibit, Home Land Security, which runs through December 18 in San Francisco’s Fort Scott. michelepred.com.

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