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May Stevens
Big Daddy Paper Doll
serigraph on paper
Image: 21 × 35 inches (53.3 × 88.9 cm)
Credit Line
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Dorsky.
Accession Number
May Stevens’ artwork is often politically-charged and addresses issues of feminism, activism, and social justice. She was a founding member of Heresies, A Feminist Publication on Art and Politics.

This print is from a series titled Big Daddy that Stevens worked on from 1968 to 1976. The central paper doll figure with its bullet-shaped head and bulbous features is a crude rendering of her patriotic father and also bears a faint resemblance to the masculine visage of Teddy Roosevelt.

The paper doll is surrounded by the costumes of an executioner, soldier, policeman or butcher – patriarchal roles that represent both symbolic and literal authoritarian power. These outfits of dominance are undermined by the sheer fact that they are costumes meant for a toy. The central figure is ultimately naked and vulnerable to the viewer’s eye and able to be dressed up and dressed down as the viewer sees fit.