Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Level 1

The medium of the artwork that represents my identity is a white wall in which various pictures and objects describing my first year of High School are displayed. The very first object that is hung up is a picture of me when I had just turned twelve years old during the summer. I was wearing overalls with a purple t-shirt, Velcro sneakers and a Velcro watch. Two ponytails kept my light brown hair tied up so that only my bangs covered a part of my eyes. I had no makeup on whatsoever, and I was holding on to one of my old teddy bears, smirking. The next object was a picture of me on my first day at High School. I was wearing my new uniform that must have been three sizes too big. A very long navy blue skirt that fell under my knees and the white socks went just above my knee. The white t-shirt stopped at my elbows and it had our College’s logo. I was smiling on that picture, just beaming with joy because I was finally old enough to go. Following the picture are about a thousand tiny butterflies painted directly on the white wall, representing the nervousness I felt that very day. Black smoky shadows are circling the butterflies causing the nervousness. The shadows represent the older girls who would pick on the first years. After the first week of school it had been clear to me that I had to change. The following objects and images slowly became blurry because I no longer knew who I was and what I was supposed to be. Then, another picture is hung up on the wall. If you stare at it long enough, you will realize that it is a picture of my face but it no longer looks natural. Mascara and eyeliner have been added to the eyes, lip gloss to the mouth and blush on the cheeks. My facial expression is a mixture of uncertainty and unease. A magazine cover of ELLE is next to the picture. On the cover, we see a model with tight, low cut jeans, fire red stilettos, and a v-neck shirt that stopped just above the belly button revealing a pierced belly button. I had admired that model so much, and all the other skinny and stylish ones, that I wanted to be just like her and every other girl who made it in magazines. Therefore, the light brown ponytails transformed themselves into blond streaked straightened hair, the overalls were replaced by a mini skirt with a tight t-shirt that also revealed my stomach. I had thrown the Velcro sneakers away and started to wear stilettos of my own. The finishing touch was getting my belly button pierced as well. A scale is now hammered to the wall. It has quadruple digits numbers and a single word is written above the scale in large, bold letters. OBESE. My weight was nothing like the ones in the magazines. My thighs were too big, my stomach didn’t stick in, so I decided to cut off protein, sugars and flour. I had lost a lot of weight, but it was never enough. I could still read those bold letters above my scale. The last object is a mirror without a reflection. I could not see myself because I no longer had my own identity. I had society’s identity. The innocent and childish Alexandra was replaced by an underweight child who tried to grow up too fast.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Shirin Neshat

Shirin Neshat is an Iranian artist who has grown up in an upper-middle class family in Iran. During her schooling years, the Islamic Revolution started to take place therefore her parents sent her to Berklee in the United States when she was only 17 to keep her safe. She had studied in art, but did not think she was a great painter. It was only 12 years later when she went back to her country for the first time that she was inspired. She found that her country had been greatly transformed because of the Islamic Revolution. She was therefore inspired by her feeling of displacement and exile, and became an artist to face her own anxieties. She made videos and took photographs that explore the role of women in her country as well as the cultural conflicts of the East and West. When I first saw this picture that was taken by Shirin, all I could see was a black and white picture of a hand gesture that has markings all over it. Then, after knowing the author’s background, what inspires her to make videos and take pictures, the Islamic Revolution and the role of women in Islam, I see a very different picture. Now I see a picture that represents the Islamic Revolution as well as the role of women in Shirin’s country. Her hand is covering her mouth as if to say that she cannot be heard and the symbols on her hands are actually poems from anonymous Iranian women. This is a very symbolic picture. As a Westerner, I could see nothing special about this picture at first but after knowing what I know, our perception of the picture changes completely. Shirin explained in her article that Westerners, her main viewers, see her work in a different way then the Iranian people do. She says that her people can relate to her work and are able to read between the lines since they are living the Islamic Revolution. Westerners on the other hand, know little of the Islamic Revolution so how could they possibly understand? Shirin said that while Islamic people can read between the lines of her work, Westerners can only see in black or white. It is either one thing or the other.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Linen Closet

When I first saw this piece of art called The Linen Closet, I did not think that this should be considered art. It was simply a decapitated naked mannequin of a woman stuck inside a closet. Then I looked at it closely, read chapter 10 and realized that this was some serious feminist artwork with a symbolic meaning. It represented women in 1960's and 1970's after the second wave of feminism, that is, obtaining the right to vote. The linen closet is an extremely symbolic piece in the artwork because it usually contains cloths, sheets and tablecloths that need to be ironed and a woman usually does this house chore. Therefore, it represents the stay at home mom whose only role is to take care of her household and take care of the children. The woman itself is represented by a mannequin that probably represents the idea of a trophy wife that cannot speak. I believe she is nude because it also represents women as sexual objects. So when the mannequin is place inside the linen closet, this is a metaphor that shows how women in those days were trapped. However, Sandra Orgel opened the closet doors and placed the woman's left foot out of the closet. I believe that this means that she is slowly starting to come out of her closet and I'm not talking about being a homosexual. Thanks to the ability for women to vote, she is on her way of becoming a full, independent woman who is free to choose for herself. We must keep in mind though that she is only halfway out. After studying Sandra's artwork properly, I now conclude that it is art and that we need to understand social context in order to understand it fully.

Friday, February 5, 2010


When I first saw the David by Michelangelo in class, I was in awe. The statue was so majestic,powerful and lifelike. It is its amazing details such as the curly hair, the toned body, and the way he is standing by putting pressure on his right leg and looking into the horizon that makes him look so real. Then, I was introduced to another artist that somewhat works like Michelangelo however he is a few centuries younger. His name is Ron Mueck. When we first saw the documentary in class and the picture of a pregnant woman appeared, I thought she was real, that is, alive. However, the class and I were proven wrong when we were told that the lady was in fact an 8 foot high statue. It is just one of the numerous spectacular works of realism that Mueck has created with such patience. The use of fiberglass and silicone, the added hair on her scalp, eyebrows and pubic hair and her facial expression make her seem so real. I would say that without a doubt, Michelangelo and Ron Mueck have mastered the art of realism and I just cannot take my eyes off their works.