Date of Award
M.F.A. in Art
Art and Art History
The “performance” of gender is variable and multifarious, fabricated in reaction to audience, mood, and previous experiences. Starting in childhood, people “police” our gender performances, and profoundly shape our self-presentation and sense of personal identity. We gradually learn to self-edit our performances of gender, after countless critiques by others, which often negatively impact our body image as they preserve “norms,” marginalizing anyone who does not conform. The mixed-media installation, Southern Discomfort: Performing Femininity in the Deep South, examines this process and its impact on young girls. The young, blonde, female figure who appears multiple times in my installation reveal girls in these gender-norm “policing” encounters. All of the figures are based on images of my niece, Zoni Lynne, age three, the child whose self-concepts I influence the most. My artworks reach beyond the traditional canvas and into the viewer’s space in order to confront the audience with the question of how they may have influenced the gender socialization of others in the Deep South. The negative effects of these repetitive, forced messages upon the construction and reconstruction of personal body image is expressed in my work by the building-up of thick layers of mixed media, the wear-and-tear of the canvas, and through the presence of symbols such as “Suitable for Chubbies,” blonde hair, and the bee hive.
Turnipseed, Rachel Whitney, "Southern Discomfort: Performing Femininity In The Deep South" (2017). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 579.