For years, I've repurposed old, metal lunchboxes. A Rambo lunchbox became a lunchbox dedicated to Great Women of Literature. Another honored Great Writers of the South. More recently, I've dedicated a lunchbox to The Donner Party. For a long time, though, I've had it in my head to create the ultimate Superhero Lunchbox...not a lunchbox featuring Batman or Wonder Woman, but a box honoring my real-life heroes.

I posed this challenge to a wide circle of friends: get your hands on a metal lunchbox, and put some thought into who or what your heroes are, and why. And then get to work making the Superhero Lunchbox of your dreams.

This online exhibit is the result of that challenge. I hope visitors to this site will find it fun and interesting, and maybe even inspiring. Lunchboxes are such useful things, and so many of us have fond memories of toting tuna sandwiches to school in our Partridge Family or Six Million Dollar Man lunchboxes. There seems to me to be no reason for us to outgrow this tradition of toting around our meals in metal boxes that say something about who we are, what we like, and what our values are. I know I've never outgrown it.

Start here, because it's what started it all for me, and work your way up. Enjoy. Leave some feedback. Make a lunchbox.

For a more detailed view, click on the individual images.

If you're moved to make a lunchbox of your own, and have it included in this exhibit, submissions are welcome. Get your hands on a metal lunchbox (no plastic, please) - you can buy a blank one from or repurpose an old one. Go to town. Choose your superhero, and and run with it. Photograph your finished lunchbox, write a few words about your subject, and send the photos and text to me at, with the words "Superhero Lunchbox" in the subject box.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Michelle Chevallier

When I first started this artwork, I was really mulling over who to choose. I don't really have personal heroes. I had purchased a multipack of vintage postcards to use for another project, and I opened it to find a bonus of not only postcards, but a pristine set of luggage labels. I had the realization that a lunchbox is like a mini suitcase, and the idea was born.

The problem was narrowing down the list of who to represent. There are many designers that contributed to the golden era of luggage labels, but I didn't have those of anyone famous. Eventually I decided that I would call this the Franz Lenhart/Jan Lavies Tribute Lunchbox, as both had a major influence on this "golden era."

Franz Lenhart had just enrolled at the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts when World War I began. In 1922, Lenhart moved to Florence to complete his studies at the Accademia di Belle Arti and began working as an apprentice poster designer at a local printing shop. Once Lenhart earned his diploma he moved to Merano, where he began teaching and working as an artist. A gifted portrait artist, Lenhart was a master in capturing the light and atmosphere of the Italian Alps and Dolomities.

Jan Lavies was a Dutch commercial designer who was born in Holland and spent most of his career working in the Dutch East Indies for the publicity agency Aneta. During the 1930's he designed posters, advertising, luggage labels and folders for the Netherlands-Indies Hotel Association and K.P.M. the Royal Parcel Shipping Company. Lavies received many awards and praise for his modern Art Deco designs, using strong color combinations and clean compositions. His labels capture the brilliant color and natural beauty of the aforementioned exotic lands.

My components on the front and back and interior are the luggage labels, some rubber travel related stamps, and snippets and pictures from a travel-related scrapbook sheet. I was concerned about the reaction of the old labels to any sort of sealant, so I left the front unsealed. The back required contact paper to get the rubber stamps to stay put. I'm not really happy about how the back turned out with the contact paper, but this is my first lunchbox and it turned out better than I expected.
The side panels are composed of reproduction lithograph Victorian perfume labels from Victor Vassier in Paris. I chose them because they are related to the travel theme in that they were affixed to shipping crates, instead of luggage.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Lana Nieves - Lana Winters

Ok, so this is a weird one. I became obsessed with season two of American Horror Story: Asylum, and its main character. The show revolves around Lana Winters, a writer and a lesbian, living life in 1960s Boston, who ends up being committed to an asylum from which there is seemingly no escape, and all because she's gay and has something to say. The asylum turns out to be a house of unspeakable horrors including filth, over-medication, physical torture, exposure to all kinds of criminally insane people (worst of all being the nuns and doctors who run the place) and a bunch of de-gayifying treatments I can't even think about.  Anyhow, people kept telling me I should just stop watching, because this fucking show upset me so much, on a personal level, every week. But I couldn't stop. I. Could. Not. It was too good. The writing was too good. Sarah Paulson and Jessica Lange and Lily Rabe were too fucking good. And Lana Winters was too likable. I rooted for her. I felt obliged to see her through to the bitter end, whatever that end would be. The whole show seemed to revolve around the idea of being abandoned and forgotten because one is a misfit: it's why no one really misses Lana Winters when she's locked up, seemingly forever.  Who really CARES about some woman? Some lesbian, no less? Some dumb-ass, loud-mouth, lesbian writer. Named Lana, for heaven's sake.  I was soooo not going to quit this one. I'm glad I didn't. It's pretty fucking great. Lana, for all her human failings, is pretty fucking great, and gets as triumphant an ending as one can get, given the nature of this drama. How can I not have love for a story where everyone dies, except for loud-mouthed, lesbian writer named Lana? A lunchbox was definitely in order.