Date of Award

Spring 6-2-2018

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)

Department

Painting

First Advisor

Kevin Zucker

Second Advisor

Jackie Gendel

Third Advisor

Roger White

Abstract

At the center of all human life is the idea of ‘home’, and although this notion has persisted across time, the specific ideas and meaning of that word have changed significantly across the millennia. We are now in an unprecedented time of rapid change and social, economic and political upheaval, and from where we stand now, it is important to explore what ‘home’ means to us today, at both the individual and collective level.

The domestic space of the home, and the rooms within, represent a politicized site vis-à-vis gender, and these gender dichotomies are perhaps most prevalent in the kitchen and dining room. My studio practice centers around food – both its production and consumption, as well as the domestic spaces dedicated to food. Food is a powerful indicator and tool used to define who we are culturally, socially, economically, and politically. Surrounding the food we eat, there exists a web of interdependence between other people, animals, technology, industry, and economy. This web has been a rich subject for artists to explore and unpack throughout the years. American performance artist Linda Montana wrote in a 1981 issue of High Performance magazine that engagement with food manifests as “political statement, as conceptual device, as life principle, as sculptural material, for nurturance and ritual, for props and irony, as a scare tactic, in autobiography, as feminist statement, in humor, for survival.” Drawing on the long lineage of feminist artists who have investigated the semiotic potential of food and dining, I bring a critical self-awareness to the domestic space to appropriate, reclaim, and empower objects and symbols that have long been perceived as oppressive and confining for women.

The idea of femininity provides artists with access to a large visual vocabulary, and thus provides us with the opportunity to blur the lines between the formal stereotypes. These aesthetics of femininity also provide artists with space for creative new interpretations of harmful past preconceptions. I comment on the costs and implications of emotional labor, especially as they relate to the performance of femininity. My work extends to themes of the body as spectacle, performativity in personal and social relationships, and the tension between agency and expectation within contexts of intimacy and love. Through painting, video, and performance, I create visual narratives that disrupt restrictive ideas of gender, social identity, and femininity, and I strive for an elusiveness that defies the social categories that threaten to limit women. I question how visual disorientation of the domestic space, or domestic disorientation, works to unmoor and destabilize ingrained assumptions that have been historically limiting or debilitating for women.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

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