desire to take things apart is a primary component to the behavior
of curious and intelligent beings. Perhaps the artistís quest to
create and obtain beauty is driven by desire for the power to deconstruct
it. One needs to discover what something is made of and how it works
before one can improve upon it or recreate it. A drive for new knowledge
is the key to imagination, creativity, invention, evolution, art
my opinion, a metaphorical dissection is an unusual but thorough
approach to a phenomenological explication of my art. To physically
dissect something is to cut it apart and examine the structure and
the relationship of the parts. To psychologically dissect something,
one must examine it minutely, part by part, and analyze it. As the
artist, it would appear logical to interpret and analyze my art
by taking apart the pieces in order to better understand the whole.
This dissection will reveal an extremely intimate look into the
life experiences and spiritual beliefs that have shaped and influenced
the creation of my art.
felt it appropriate to use the concept of the body to organize this
discussion because Western culture bases so many observations on
both the metaphor and relationships of the human body. We believe
our hearts can perceive truth. We use the word stomach to refer
to preference, disposition or pleasure. We believe our guts are
the location for our instincts and intuition. We may state someone
is a brain when we refer to intelligence. We refer to body parts
to describe locations. Our furniture has arms and legs and our homes
have windows for eyes. We measure in hands, heads and feet. Things
are placed at eye level. Art, automobiles and architecture are based
on human scale and proportions. Science, medicine and technology
derived from the need to improve the human condition. Everything
we know, we understand from a human bodily perspective. The body
is the way we directly experience the world.
each chapter, I provide a physiological description of the organ
as well as an overview of Western cultureís concepts and metaphorical
relationships to that particular body part. These specific organs
were chosen on the basis of their cultural significance and symbolic
meaning in my works. Within each organ, I have located the less
tangible aspects of humanity that are most commonly associated with
the part. Aspects considered intangible are concepts such as femininity,
beauty, ego, unconscious, instinct, intuition, intelligence, sexuality,
creativity, spirituality and emotion.
dissection is also an opportunity to view the female body from a
combined artistic, anatomical, physiological, psychological, philosophical,
anthropological, feminist and historical perspective. I believe
analyzing our embodiment from a creative interdisciplinary approach
can aid in reinvisioning, rethinking, reconstructing and redefining
metaphorical autopsy, I attempt to determine the root and nature
of diseases still effecting women in Western culture. A critical
analysis of those body parts that appear to be primary causes for
oppression, objectification and misogyny will be provided. I will
attempt to reinterpret and revitalize these aspects of our embodiment
to give them new positive meanings. Body parts of women that have
been objectified in the past can become sacred symbols of our strength,
beauty, power, sexuality and femininity in the enlightened future.
prefer not to label myself or my art. However, I would like the
reader to keep in mind certain concepts that strongly apply to this
discussion, though they are not formally introduced into the Thesis.
theme that predominates the upcoming discussion is Humanism. This
is an "educational and philosophical outlook that emphasizes
the personal worth of the individual and the central importance
of human values as opposed to religious belief, developed in Europe
during the Renaissance." The American Humanist Association
States; "Humanism is a rational philosophy informed by science,
inspired by art, and motivated by compassion. Affirming the dignity
of each human being, it supports the maximization of individual
liberty and opportunity consonant with social and planetary responsibility.
It advocates the extension of participatory democracy and the expansion
of the open society, standing for human rights and social justice.
Free of supernaturalism, it recognizes human beings as a part of
nature and holds that values--be they religious, ethical, social,
or political--have their source in human experience and culture.
Humanism thus derives the goals of life from human need and interest
rather than from theological or ideological abstractions, and asserts
that humanity must take responsibility for its own destiny."
addition to traditional feminist thought, many of the concepts in
this discussion are approached from a Womanist perspective. A Womanist
is usually a black feminist or feminist of color. Although I am
white, my work and issues concern women of all races and follows
a Womanist ethic. The word Womanist derives from the word womanish.
This word refers to outrageous, audacious, courageous or willful
female behavior. Someone who is womanish is one who is in charge,
serious or responsible. In addition, it is a woman who loves women
sexually and/or non sexually. She appreciates woman's culture, woman's
emotional flexibility and strength. She sometimes loves individual
men, sexually or non sexually. She is committed to the survival
of entire people, male and female. She is traditionally a universalist.
She loves music, dance, the moon, the Spirit, love, food, roundness
psychology behind my art tends to lean toward Humanistic psychology.
"Humanistic psychology is a value orientation that holds a
hopeful, constructive view of human beings and of their substantial
capacity to be self-determining. It is guided by a conviction that
intentionality and ethical values are strong psychological forces,
among the basic determinants of human behavior. This conviction
leads to an effort to enhance such distinctly human qualities as
choice, creativity, the interaction of the body, mind and spirit,
and the capacity to become more aware, free, responsible, life-affirming
is appropriate for a discussion of my art on many levels. In a literal
sense, the dissection relates to the use of medically informed images
of internal organs in my works. On a conceptual level and from a
Humanist/Womanist perspective, my ideas about the world, environment,
nature, religion and society have their origins in my body rather
than from mystical or external forces. Because my art and issues
are concerned with humanity, individuality, creativity, intelligence,
empowerment and feminine identity, I feel they are best depicted,
analyzed, discussed and organized within the metaphorical body structure
of the Western woman artist.
this is a creative work I have taken the liberty of playing every
role. I act as the Medical Examiner performing the autopsy and determining
which body parts need to be investigated as possible causes of art.
The Medical Examinerís commentary (shown in italics) will
serve as a prelude to each chapter. The main body of the Thesis
is told from my perspective as the Artist. The Ďsubjectí, the woman
being autopsied, serves as an extension of myself, my ideals and
as the primary symbol in my works.