"Not all princesses are waiting to be saved."
Princess Sophia Solar Michalski
ThePrincessProject.com is an interdisciplinary conceptual art project
conceived and spearheaded by Kathleen Bitetti. The Project examines gender
roles, gender assignment, fairy tales, Royalty & class structures,
mass culture, identity, race & ethnicity, the "commoditification
& branding" of individuals, and gender issues by utilizing a
vast array of mediums including: new media and digital image making, sculpture,
performance, installation, photography, video, and the internet. The ideal
audiences for ThePrincessProject.com are, but are not limited to: the
general public, the "art community", activists, university populations,
young girls, teenage girls and boys, and women and men of all ages and
backgrounds. These audiences have been and/or will be reached via the
Internet, with performances/ appearances, through exhibitions in public
spaces, art spaces and universities, and by community based artist residencies.
ThePrincessProject.com is designed to allow Bitetti to invite guest artists
to work with her on specific aspects of the Project. ThePrincessProject.com
is also designed not only to promote itself, but to also to promote the
individual art careers and the work of the guest artists. Some of the
guest artists have been Melody Fortier/Tangerine Boutique, Joanne Kaliontzis,
Cynthia von Buhler, and Laura Wulf. Her Royal Highness Princess Sophia
Solar Michalski is graciously acting as the project's muse.
ThePrincessProject.com strives to investigate the seemingly invisible
class structure and society's conflicting and unspoken rules/roles for
women by using a familiar childhood symbol/ideal- the princess. The Project
poses questions and offers new ways to explore, challenge, discuss and
redefine these structures and roles. The Project is offering to rewrite
some of these passive female fairy tale roles that society is saddled
with. "The princess" is seen as means of empowering women by
taking a familiar archetype and giving it a new twist - one that empowers
girls and women of all ages to actively question and investigate where
women's power comes from. ThePrincessProject.com blurs the lines between
reality and virtual reality, fabricated identities and actual identities,
mass culture and art culture, etc. The Project has two sister web sites
that are linked together. By utilizing the web, the project is bring activism
and contemporary art to a new and larger audience. The hope is to create
an on line resource and forum for the discussion of gender roles/gender
assignment, fairy tales, Royalty/class structures, mass culture, domestic
violence issues, and the influence/impact of society and mass culture
on the individual- in particular on gender roles and issues.
Based on the enthusiastic responses received from a variety of audiences
(art community, mainstream public, young and old), ThePrincessProject.com
has struck a chord. Due to the Project's crossover appeal, it appears
that it will have the rare opportunity to merge these different audiences
without compromising the artistic integrity of the work. Feedback is an
important component of the project. Both web sites have a mailbox for
people to respond/send email feedback to Bitetti and/or the Princess.
The very nature of the performative aspect of the project also provides
direct and immediate feedback. Panel discussions addressing the project
will be utilized when it is appropriate (when the project is hosted by
Universities or other art related venues). As a professional visual artist
and art activist, Bitetti is interested in exploring contemporary culture
and the places where art making and mass culture converge/collide. ThePrincessProject.com
is a perfect vehicle to combine traditional art making methods with new
technologies for art purposes and for activism.
Kathleen Bitetti's undergraduate work is in economics with a specialization
in public policy, art history and studio art. She has been working as
a curator/arts professional in alternative art spaces and as an art activist
in the Boston area since 1989. For the last thirteen years Bitetti has
created conceptually based sociopolitical objects and installations that
deconstruct the American dream, fairy tales, gender roles/gender assignment,
the fragility of family dynamics, and domestic violence. Hand stenciled
text/language, mundane domestic objects, and the color white are very
prominent features in Bitetti's work.
Thoughts about ThePrincessProject.com began in 1992 when she began to
explore aspects of this theme in her installation entitled"Shelter"-
a site specific piece that reconstructed a bedroom in a battered women's
shelter. In 1995 she began to collect source material for a piece entitled,
"How to Be a Princess Kit". Also in 1995 she completed a life
size bed/crib sculpture, "Some Day My Prince Will Come" The
work, which is almost entirely white, is comprised of a twin bed frame,
a wooden mattress of nails, two white picket fences, and a white pillow
with the title of the piece stenciled on it in graphite. These pieces
grew out of Bitetti's research into the experiences of victims of domestic
violence. Many of the women stated that their batterer "was prince
charming at first." It became painfully clear to Bitetti that adult
women (and men for that matter) are still impacted by "the princess
& prince charming happily after all myth" they are literally
sold when they are children.
Her Royal Highness Princess Sophia Solar Michalski (HRH), who is Bitetti's
muse, is of Polish Royal decent and Italian Noble decent and is presently
pursuing a degree in art history at an undisclosed university in the greater
Boston area. Among her many interests are women's issues, improving the
status of women, contemporary art, fashion (vintage clothing and emerging/contemporary
designers), protecting the environment, and working towards world peace.
She is an avid reader and is also very interested in encouraging literacy
and education- especially for girls and women. She is also a collector
of dragonflies, dragonfly imagery, and dragonfly folklore. As part of
ThePrincessProject.com, Bitetti arranges appearances for Princess Sophia
Solar Michalski. Unlike a fairy tale princess, Princess Sophia is a social
activist who takes an active interest in women's causes. Princess Sophia
can occasionally be seen at fund raisers, art openings, and other public
ThePrincessProject.com came into its own during the Spring of 2000. Bitetti's
invitation to attend a residency at the Contemporary Artist Center in
North Adams, MA and the Tiara exhibition at Boston's MFA, helped to fuel
the project. Bitetti has staged and arranged many "live" appearances
and photo opportunities for her muse. Although at first it may seem to
some that Princess Sophia appears to be an archetypal princess, one must
remember that appearances can be deceiving. As one interacts with her,
her objects, and/or her web site it quietly becomes apparent that she
is a different type of princess. To quote Sarah Walker, painter, professor,
and director of the Clark University Gallery, "ThePrincessProject.com
reveals the system of how culture controls the feminine within restrictive,
if seemingly favorable, roles. The mythology of the princess runs deep
in western culture, even if there are relatively few such beings in existence.
Yet the archetype of the princess and the values attached to being a princess
still make appearances on toy shelves, media campaigns, tiara exhibitions,
even in gay culture, fashion photography, and cruise ships. ThePrincessProject.com
asks: What are we being sold?"
Princess Sophia Solar Michalski has her own staff, address, logo, official
stationary, and personal stationary. She has her own web site, PrincessSophia.com,
chronicling her activities, charities, interests and public appearances.
HRH's site, due to her interests, is primarily an activist charged site
providing information and resources on gender issues and relevant topics.
Long term plans for the site include a discussion area, a section for
young girls and teenagers, an email newsletter, HRH book of the month
club and her recommended reading list, her favorite web sites and Princess
Sophia's Hall of fame featuring girls and women of all ages who have overcome
obstacles to achieve their goals.
Likewise, ThePrincessProject.com has its own identity and its own web
site, (ThePrincessProject.com). This site gives the full history of ThePrincessProject.com,
and describes Princess Sophia's collaboration with the Project. It serves
as a vehicle to promote the guest artists working on the project, as well
a means to highlight those have provided in-kind and/or fiscal support
for the project. This includes venues, galleries, businesses, grantors,
advisors, and other artists. ThePrincessProject.com links to other web
sites created by artists that are working in a similar genre (www.slopart.com,
www.jeffu.tv, etc.). Long term plans are for the site to become an e-commerce
venue that will sell products endorsed and/or developed by the HRH. Products
under development are tiaras, & "how to be a princess" kits
(no prince is necessary), and other princess memorabilia (plates, t-shirts,
The first incarnation of the Princess's web site and the Project's web
site were launched on May 4th 2001 during the Boston Cyberarts Festival
(April 21-May 6, 2001, www.bostoncyberarts.org) and "spring fashion
WEEKEND BOSTON" (May 3- May 6, www.fashionweek.org). The web hosting
sponsor, Imagicians presented both sites as one of their contributions
to the Cyberarts Festival. As with most web sites, new features and content
will be added over time. Both sites have email list serve capabilities
in order to communicate with online visitors about new products, important
news on issues of interest, and upcoming events (such as appearances of
HRH and exhibitions of ThePrincessProject.com). Both sites will be promoted
via search engines, links, promotional postcards, and also by HRH's appearances
and exhibitions of ThePrincessProject.com.
The Project has successfully reached its audiences through public performances/
appearances of HRH, panel discussions, and exhibitions of ThePrincessProject.com.
During HRH's spring 2000 visit to the Tiara Exhibition at Boston's Museum
of Fine Arts, several young girls (under the age of 10) and their families
were present and asked to have their picture taken with the Princess.
All of the little girls received their picture with the Princess, a note
from the Office of the Princess and a tiara. At the request of one of
the little girl's mothers, HRH's attended her nursery school birthday
party in Fall 2000. In fall/winter of 2000, documentation and objects
from HRH's recent activities and Bitetti's &"Some Day My Prince Will
Come" bed sculpture were included in a group exhibition, "Fairytales
of Domesticity" at Clark University (Worcester, MA). The Project
reached hundreds of students and the general public via the show. The
Princess also made two appearances at Clark University: the reception
for "Fairytales of Domesticity" exhibition and at a panel discussion
at the President's House. At these two events she spoke to the attending
university students and guests. Likewise, HRH's appearance and the exhibition
of her garments at South Boston Open Studios 2000 reached over 1,000 people.
Many people signed the mailing list to receive further information on
ThePrincessProject.com. The Princess was also a special guest at the debut
of the Boston-based band, the Countess, for their show in December 2000.
In 2001 both ThePrincessProject.com and HRH had very busy schedules. On
April 1, 2001 HRH modeled for the second annual Maude Mango Vintage Fashion
Show which benefited Julie's Family Learning Program, a South Boston based
charity that works with single mothers. "Who's the Fairest of Them
All?" an exhibition in May 2001 by Bitetti and guest artist Joanne
Kaliontzis at Louis Boston, a high-end clothing store, was paired with
a "residency" for HRH at the store. These activities coincided
with the Boston Cyberarts Festival &"spring fashion WEEKEND BOSTON".
The exhibition and HRH's residency provided content for her web site,
as well as promoting the Project, the Cyberarts Festival, "spring
fashion WEEKEND BOSTON", Louis of Boston, and web site sponsor Imagicians.
Louis was chosen for several reasons: 1) they have a willingness to support
local artists 2) it is a high end fashion commerce site 3) Louis is housed
in the original building for the Natural History Museum 4) this building
was the sister building to first structure that housed MIT. In Summer
of 2001, HRH was a special guest at the Countess's shows at the Boston
Institute of Contemporary Art's Theater and at the Paradise Rock Club.
Also in Summer 2001, "Unofficial Fanfare" an installation of
gifts given to Princess Sophia was included in the Dietrich von Buhler
Gallery's group show "Royally F**ked". HRH also made a guest
appearance to sign autographs for those attending the exhibition's opening
In 2002 to commemorate Women's History Month, Bitetti had a March residency
at the Fuller Museum with the Teen Girl Docent Program, a teen pregnancy
prevention and empowerment program. Bitetti's residency began on February
26th with Bitetti arranging a visit by Princess Sophia to the Teen Docents
and the Museum. The Princess's visit launched a discussion amongst the
teens on stereotypes. With Bitetti, the group investigated personas of
women-- the vixen, the battered wife, the Geisha, the princess. Bitetti
urged each teen to consider what types of personas they have observed,
and how they can explore that particular identity further through their
art making. She had each teen create an identity suitcase based on herself,
a fictional character, a historical person, and/or a family member. The
teen's suitcases were donated by Brockton area residents. Bitetti created
a diptych with her own two matching pink suitcases. The larger pink suitcase,
entitled "He was Prince Charming at first--name withheld" holds
the identity of a woman and her young daughter in a battered women's shelter
(a component of her 1992 installation, shelter). The smaller pink suitcase,
entitled"Not all princess are waiting to be saved- portable royal
biography" has objects on loan from Princess Sophia- including a
selection of her favorite children's book that are an alternative to Disney's
princess books (such as Princess Smartypants by Babette Cole, The Paper
Bag Princess by Robert Munsch). All the suitcases were exhibited in "Lives-
an Investigation of Identity" at the Fuller Museum for the month
of April. The show also traveled to the Lillian Immig Gallery at Emmanuel
College (May- August). Also in early 2002, Bitetti in collaboration with
fellow artist Monique Deschaines, rebranded both ThePrincessProject.com
and Princess Sophia's logos and accompanying materials.
Also n 2002, the Princess accepted an invitation to cut the ribbon for
the opening of the Persona exhibition at the Somerville Museum (March
10th, 2002). Some of HRH's treasured items, arranged by Bitetti, were
on display for the Persona exhibit (March - April 20). Also on display
at the Somerville Main Public Library, to coincide with the Persona exhibition
and women's history month (March), was a selection of the Princess's favorite
tiaras and books on women written by women. HRH visited the Boston ICA's
summer teen program in July. Bitetti was also an artist in residency at
the Essex Art Center in Lawrence (July 2002-March 2003). Bitetti, like
she did with the Fuller teens, had the young people at the EAC create
identity suitcases that were shown in a fall exhibition at the EAC. The
exhibition traveled to many sites in the greater Lawrence area and also
traveled to the Artists Foundation's Boston Galleries & Video Room
in January 2003. The exhibit was partially funded by the Princess. Selections
from HRH's private art collection were on display in December 2002 through
to January 2003 at Merrimack College. Bitetti selected the work for the
show from the private collection.
2003 proved to be a very busy year. In late Spring 2003, in conjunction
with the 2003 Boston Cyberarts Festival, was the relaunch of ThePrincessProject.com
and PrincessSophia.com sporting the rebranded logos and overall new looks.
Both sites were redesigned by Bitetti and Robert Stepnoski. The structure
of HRH's site is based on HRH Prince Michael of Kent's old web site. Bitetti
and ThePrincessProject.com participated in six exhibitions in 2003. Bitetti
also had several visiting artist engagements, and arranged many visits
by the Princess in 2003.
In Fall of 2004 Bitetti was an artist in residence at Artspace in New
Haven, CT. Princess Sophia helped to fund Bitetti's residency. Bitetti
also received funding for her residency from the Puffin Foundation. The
Princess, given New Haven's historic theater connection to Broadway (NYC),
was very interested in Bitetti's project. Bitetti arranged for Princess
Sophia to co-host Artspace's Masquerade Ball at the Devil's Gear Bike
shop in New Haven. The Princess also met with the Mayor of the New Haven.
Bitetti was one of the artists included in a group exhibition, Enchantment,
at Artspace in November 2004. For that show she premiered two new works
that are part of her ThePrincessProject.com. The two new pieces were:
1) Royal Traveler-How to be a Princess Kit 2) Tiara Beautyrest Tarp Tent.
Bitetti also premiered the 2004 Official Photograph of Princess Sophia
and her wolf Contessa at this exhibition.
Bitetti in 2005 became an artist in residence in Quincy, MAand has been arranging appearances of the Princess at historic sites in Quincy.
The Princess also collaborated and helped to fund Bitetti's projects that
were part of the DeCordova Museum's Group exhibition, Pretty Sweet, the
Sentimental Image in Contemporary Art (Jan 15-April 17, 2005). Bitetti
has also created a project in conjunction with the DeCordova Museum exhibition,
Pretty Sweet: Public Libraries, in which she placed her art work in three
public libraries (Thomas Crane Public Library (Quincy), Boston Public
Library and the Lincoln Public Library). Bitetti received funding for
her Quincy residency and the Pretty Sweet exhibitions from the LEF Foundation.
New works from thePrincessProject.com were on view as part of the Boston
Windows Project on 22-24 Bromfield Street in downtown Boston (Aug. 1-
Oct. 31, 2005). New works created from Bitetti's Quincy Residency were
on view in a group show entitled, Plastic Princess: Barbie as Art at Montserrat
College of Art (Nov 10, 2005 - Feb 2006).
In March of 2006, Bitetti's new work created from her Quincy residency,
Sewing for Abigail, was on view for Women's History Month at the Quincy
Historic Society. Bitetti had a short term artist residency in Newburyport
in Spring of 2006 with the Jeanne Geiger Crisis Center. Works from thePrincessProject.com
were on display in four store fronts in Newburyport for the Month of April
as part of that residency.
New work from thePrincessProject.com were featured in two groups shows
in 2007: 101 Dress Exhibition at artSpace in New Haven, CT and in the
Alphabet Project 2 at the Essex Art Center in Lawrence, MA. The Royal
Traveler installation created for Montserrat's Plastic Princess exhibition
was shown in Boston at Emmanuel College's Lillian Immig Gallery at the
end of 2007.
In 2008, Bitetti had her first one person NYC show entitled, "Containment",
in May at the now closed artist run alternative space, the Fountain Head Gallery (32
West 28th Street, 3rd Floor). She featured recent and new work from ThePrincessProject.com
Three new works from thePrincessProject.com in 2009 were on display in the group
show Historic Intepretation: Contemporary Artists Intepet the Collection at the Peabody Historic
Society & Museum in Peabody, MA (Summer to Fall 09). In October 2009 Kathleen Bitetti was invited to attend an international residency in
Malta at Gozo
Contemporary in October.
Kathleen Bitetti's solo show, Containment 2009, was on view at the Lillian Immig Gallery located on the Second Floor of the Cardinal Cushing Library at Emmanuel
College in Boston (MA): November 4-December 18, 2009.
Kathleen Bitetti's Quincy residency has been extended to the end of
2013. The residency is a collaboration between Bitetti, the
Adams National Historical Park, and the
Society. During her residency she will be working on projects related
For more information on ThePrincessProject.com's projects by Bitetti, see the exhibitions and residencies sections of this website.