Elsa María Meléndez routinely crosses the boundaries between artistic mediums in large-scale artworks that command space and attention. Combining silkscreen, drawing, and various needlework techniques, Milk portrays the artist charging forward, determined. She carries a limp bull and advances while her breasts drip glistening drops of milk.
Created six months into the COVID-19 lockdown, this artwork encapsulates Meléndez’s reflection on the fight for gender equality in Puerto Rico. As people went into quarantine, gender violence escalated around the world. In Puerto Rico, where femicides increased substantially, feminist organizations took to the streets, demanding that the government declare a state of emergency. They received the scorn of substantial sectors of society, across gender lines. In response, Meléndez created Milk, an icon of indomitability that recognizes the strength of women and their life-sustaining force while acknowledging their willingness to nurse the beast that sustains patriarchy.