Indiana Daily Student

COLUMN: The woman he married: how artistic interpretation finds pain in divorce

The wife guy loves his wife. He bases his entire brand on loving his wife. Then, he cheats on her with a younger woman.  

This is the reality for Ariel Fulmer, the estranged wife of content creator Ned Fulmer, and Anna Marie Tendler, the ex-wife of comedian John Mulaney.  But the public nature of their crumbled relationships will not stop them from creating their own art despite their husbands’ infidelity. 

These two women have very different stories regarding their relationships, but I won’t be touching on their husbands at all. These are both incredible women who make a living off their online content and art. Since they are both creatives in their own right — Ariel is an interior designer and Anna is a photographer — there is a lot  that can be learned from their online presence. 

Let’s look at Ariel’s Instagram page. She took “wife” out of her account description and has abstained from posting things other than her children since late June. She has remained neutral about her husband since late February, not posting anything that shows love for him. She hasn’t even liked his comments on her recent posts. There’s not much relationship content coming from her other than the Cartier love bracelet. 

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Oh yeah, the Cartier love bracelet? It’s nothing but an upwards of $4,500 permanent bracelet that can only be taken off with a specialty screwdriver. It’s only seen in her post from Aug. 21. Maybe it’s a bracelet of self-love, a token of her own agency and strength. Who knows, since it most certainly shouldn’t be a gift from her husband who cheated on her with one of their coworkers.  

Anna Marie Tendler, a much more traditional artist than Ariel Fulmer, has a lot more to offer in her Instagram posts. For her, it is a mode of expression and promotion for her photography. And boy, there is a lot of pain in her art. 

Tendler has two photography collections based on the pain of her divorce: “The Clothes We Wore Before” and “Rooms in the First House.” I will be focusing on her most recent collection, “The Clothes We Wore Before.” 

Her pieces entitled “The Tidal Basin,” “Auras,” and “Red Shirt” appear to be taken in the same location as her wedding photos with her ex-husband. “Red Shirt” might even be in direct reference to an Instagram post Tendler made three years ago. Red becomes a very hurtful color for Tendler, as it’s in almost every photo of her and her ex-husband that exists, from her Met Gala look in 2017 to her Tony Awards dress. She even wrote her intent to marry him in red, displayed proudly at their wedding. This color is purposefully included in every piece in the collection so far, emphasizing the importance of red to Tendler’s art. 

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This collection is about backlash. It’s about her past collection. Tendler makes notes on what she left out and addresses traumas spanning across her life. This red motif is not something I can stray away from. In “Auras,” she runs away from a chaotic dress in a red jumpsuit, as seen on her Instagram while promoting her in-person art installation. The dress she is seen running away from draws inspiration from the dress she wears in “Invoking the Night,” a piece in her “Rooms in the First House” collection. Tendler aims to separate herself from her depictions of divorce, moving on to the realm of generalized trauma. 

Both women are moving away from that part of their lives. Whether they want to or not, they are actively separating themselves from the married lives they previously had. They are signaling change to the world. 

The change they seek is shown through their social media. They are taking control over the public nature of their lives. It is now their stories, not anyone else’s. 

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