Date of Award

Summer 2017

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)

First Advisor

Sunanda Sanyal

Abstract

How does painting situate itself as an act of resistance to our visual bombardment of the human body, which is primarily transmitted through digital media? This paper explores the possibility of paint acting as a bridge to allow closer examination of the conflict that emerges between a person’s desire to avoid death, nowadays manifested through digital media obsessions, and the body’s ultimate bondage to death. My research does not propose that art is a means towards transcendence, but rather the opposite; that painting invites the mind to contemplate the body as it exists and confront the disturbing, but ultimate reality of our mortal fate. I also include parallels between digital media’s omnipotence and the Catholic supremacy of the spirit over flesh; this concept directly parallels the duality that digital mediation situates itself in. In both religious (scorning the body/flesh) and digital cases (glorifying an unattainable, Western standard of beauty), the imperfect body that virtually all people carry around is rejected.

Painting, as opposed to simulated image generating practices such as Photoshop, allows an action in which the mind and body act in psychosomatic synchronization that parallels the possibilities and limitations of the world in which we reside. Through this paper, I document my personal growth resulting from this tactile creativity by describing similarities between the content of my former paintings with the sexist and racist content of eighteenth-century Western paintings, and my ultimate victory in breaking the male gaze stereotype as a direct result of painting mixed with critical theory study.

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