Date of Award

Spring 5-19-2017

Author's School

Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts

Author Department/Program

Graduate School of Art

Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Visual Art

Degree Type

Thesis

Abstract

Many have taken part in the act of flanerie,[1] however, many have fallen victim to the flaneur; “the flaneur is the man who indulges in flanerie…”[2]. I am perpetually followed by the male gaze. I am a flaneuse, a surveyor of my surroundings at all times. “Outsider/insider is a border the flaneuse must skirmish on constantly, if only with herself.”[3]

This thesis is a first hand account of my negative experiences that are generated by the many flaneurs of sexualized culture and lustful society. It is an analysis of the paintings I have created as a result of these experiences. The paintings serve as visual records of the vulnerability, fear, anxiety, and psychological distress evoked from my encounters, the majority of which that take place within the city of Saint Louis.

Painting is a medium of retribution. I use it as retaliation and as a means to alleviate anxiety and anger brought on by my experience as a flaneuse. I narrate past and present incidents and my psychological reactions, by performance, followed by photography and painting, towards representation. This thesis is my attempt to discuss my role of perpetrator and victim, simultaneously, in my painting practice.

[1] The Flaneur. Edited by Keith Tester: New York, NY: Routledge, 1994. 1

[2] Ibid, 7.

[3] Helen Scalway, “The Contemporary Flaneuse”, in The Invisible Flaneuse?:Gender, Public Space and Visual Culture in Nineteenth Century Paris, ed. Aruna D’Souza and Tom McDonough. (Manchester, NY: Manchester University Press, 2006), 165.

Language

English (en)

Program Director

Patricia Olynyk

Program Director's Department

Graduate School of Art

Thesis Advisor

Monika Weiss

Committee Member

Michael Byron

Committee Member

Michael Byron

Committee Member

Melanie Micir

Artist's Statement

My painting practice is a psychological mirroring of my conscious feelings of vulnerability, exposure, and uncertainty as a female individual. The representational elements of the work provide the narrative for these experiences, while the abstract components represent the anxiety that surrounds me. Each piece is formed as a result of my feelings of vulnerability and powerlessness as I struggle to exist as a non-objectified and non-weak being. I try to feel safe behind the locked doors of my apartment, but only after securing every window that may lend an opportunity for an intruder. Traveling sidewalks in the midst of crowds, I feel my skin crawl as my body is visually probed by the eyes of bums and corrupted watchmen, and I find that the dogs I pass on the streets have more chivalry than these men.

My process involves two main acts: peaceful painting and aggressive painting. The first is a method to escape reality and to coax my mind into a state of tranquility. The second, is a cathartic act of aggression in which I inflict destruction on and through the surface of the painting. I represent the narrative of the work through nude figures and self portraits. Though there are a number of issues with gender equality today, my work as an artist is centered around anxiety, inferiority, and forms of objectification that I experience as a woman. The majority of these experiences transpire in public places of the city where I live alone. As a result, my psychological state is burdened with anxiety and feelings of vulnerability. I paint to relieve this burden and I use it as a combative mechanism to fight against my fear of society.