Date of Award
MA Project - Open Access
MA Project - Curatorial Proposal
Master of Arts (MA)
“A Body of Work”, the working title for this curatorial proposal, examines how a group of emerging female artists represent the female form in their work. The representation of the female form, and more specifically the female nude, has long been a key part of art history. For many years, men took ownership over women’s bodies as a commodity, especially in the case of nudes. In the 20th century, feminist artists began to take more power over the ways in which the female form was portrayed by either refusing to commodify or sexualize it or taking ownership over it themselves. Today, female artists not only grapple with the influence of the past, but also in present representations of women in the media. In the present media landscape, photoshopped bodies are used to sell everything from sex to burgers. Women are inundated with unrealistic points of comparison, greatly skewing their perceptions of their own figures. “A Body of Work” seeks to examine the ways in which contemporary female artists are following in the steps of their predecessors to reject the notion that there is a single ideal, and how they reflect the pressures that women are under today. Furthermore, it explores the idea of enlightenment aesthetics, questioning when “acceptable” depictions of the female form (or art) turn into the “unacceptable” (or pornography). “A Body of Work” examines women’s autonomy over their own bodies, and begs question regarding the consumption of contemporary feminist art.
The exhibition of “A Body of Work” is especially timely in this political and social climate. Women’s bodies are hyper-sexualized, but also shamed for taking ownership of their sexuality. Public breastfeeding is shamed; state-specific abortion bans threaten the health and bodily autonomy of millions of women. At the same time, hundreds and thousands of women are being energized by the #MeToo movement to report longignored instances of sexual harassment or assault. We are on A precipice—one in which many women are giving themselves permission to speak out and take control over their own narratives, but also one in which not everyone has that same luxury. Women are shamed into submission not only by lawmakers, but also by a culture at large. The media’s representation of female bodies is incredibly skewed, and often not even real. This has lasting impacts on women’s body image—according to a recent Psychology Today Body Image Survey, 56% of polled women wanted to change their bodies and 89%, an overwhelming majority, stated that they wanted to lose weight (David Garner, “Body Image in America: Survey Results,” Psychology Today, 2017). Women’s bodies are controlled by others at every turn. Art has long been a form of altering perceptions and social norms. By showing art that rejects societal and male consumption of the female form, “A Body of Work” seeks to provide a platform for women’s voices to be heard louder, both artists and viewers alike.
Edelson, Ali, "A Body of Work" (2019). MA Projects. 66.