Is marriage something women are forced into because of society’s expectations or do they enter marriage willingly? Is a wedding a religious ritual, a spiritual experience or a civil rite imbued with sexual tension?
A sculpture called La Promise in the St. Boniface Sculpture Garden explores those ideas. La Promise is the work of Madeleine Vrignon a St. Boniface native with a Fine Arts degree from the University of Manitoba. She began her career as an illustrator of children’s books. When asked to create a sculpture in bronze of a young girl who had died of cancer, her interest in a new art form began.
The top part of Vrignon’s statue La Promise is dark and quite provocative, with a low-cut top that emphasizes the woman’s bosom and meets in a V that points to an erogenous zone of the bride’s body. She’s wearing dark long gloves, not the white gloves you might expect a bride to wear. Her hands almost seem to be reaching up in supplication. Her stomach bulges out a bit. Could she be pregnant? This top part of the dress is tight and confining.
The bottom part of the dress is lighter in color suggesting the more traditional white bridal dress denoting purity. It is more comfortable looking and free-flowing and less confining than the top. However there is iron grill work embedded in the dress. Is it trapping or guarding something? Vrignon wanted people to think about whether marriage was a refuge for women or not.
Vrignon’s La Promise gives viewers lots to think about.