Monday, 11 July 2011

defined by gender

Female roles, gender socialization, cultural expectations and concepts of femininity have a continual affect on my artistic imagery.  I have taken a moment to explain in more details this influence as it applies to specific works.  Please bare in mind, these are simply my thoughts and emotions portrayed in these pieces, however–I highly encourage (and prefer) people viewing my work to create their own interpretations of what my work means to them.  This allows them the freedom to identify with each piece on their own terms based on their own ideologies and experiences—ultimately that is the result I strive for with me work.

Figure 2.61 Inferiority, 24"x24" mixed media pages on canvas, 2009
Figure 2.61 Inferiority (detail image)

Figure 2.61 Inferiority (detail image)

Figure 2.61: Inferiority In this piece I am playing with female expectations, images of idealized roles and appearances of women. Historical artistic references have been included, such as Titian’s Venus of Urbino Velazquez’s Las Meninas and Jan van Eyck’s Portrait of Giovanni Arnolfini and His Wife.  These recognizable female forms I have combined with geisha images and other female figures to further exemplify the various levels of culture expectations set upon women throughout various cultures and eras.  I find it fascinating that women are still held to unachievable expectations of being constantly beautiful, subservient, interesting, sensual and enigmatic. As women we are inevitable socialized to adhere to certain social expectations—the sex kitten, loving mother, intelligent career woman, generous wife.  Inevitably, we are all bound to fall terribly short of such expectations—leaving our gender with subtle or perhaps blatant feelings of inferiority whether put upon each of us by both men and women, our families, cultural media, society, religion or simply from ourselves.

Figure 5.67: Unachievable Expectations, 16.5"x12" visual journal pages mounted on wood 2009
Figure 5.67: Unachievable Expectations This piece provokes a similar sentiment through a different aesthetic form.  The text is based on various derogatory (or passively aggressive) statements I have heard women say regarding other women.  Sadly I think we are all guilty of such statements—even if just in our minds. In contrast to the underlying negative connotation of the text I have montaged female legs.  I find legs can be infinitely feminine, in spite of that; they are not as blatantly sexual as breasts.  Ideally formed legs have a gorgeous aesthetic as well as an underlying sensuality, without the clich√© and hype of breasts.

Figure 6.7: Intentional Instability, 6.5"x12" visual journal pages mounted on wood 2009

Figure 6.7: Intentional Instability (detail image)

Figure 6.7: Intentional Instability Stilettos have the same sort of implications of femininity and sexuality as legs, while also maintaining a bizarre duality.  Stilettos are an everyday object like zippers, handbags or cell phones.  Yet as almost any women (and some men) know wearing a striking pair of heels can make you feel gorgeous, powerful, and sexy.  Most men would agree in the appeal of heels.  However, it is suggested that stilettos have a subconscious appeal to men as they also make women appear more frail and fragile since they are not as stable as they would be in sensible footwear.  It is a fascinating dichotomy that something can make a woman powerful, yet frail at the same time.  With the imagery of stilettos I have also included dominos, to continue to play with the unstable concept implied by the footwear.  The skulls in the background subtlety allude to the some of the darker implications of our gender.

God help you if you are an ugly girl; of course, too pretty is also your doom, because everyone harbors a secret hatred for the prettiest girl in the room. -Ani DiFranco

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