Note: To protect the privacy of our members, e-mail addresses have been removed from the archived messages. As a result, some links may be broken.

Lesson Plans

Re: Re: A&E.O lesson plan--womens bodies in feminist art

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Fri, 21 Nov 1997 03:18:54 -0600

Respond to this message.

At 2*02 PM 11/20/97, Aimee LaLonde wrote:
>I know you are probably sick of seeing lesson plans by now, but if you
>could give me any suggestions or comments, I would appreciate it.
>Lesson title: Women's bodies in feminist art
>Idea: Feminist artists have reacted to the male gaze by productin
>images defining women's bodies on their own terms
>Grade Level: High School
>Artists I could focus on include Martha Rosler's 1977 video "Vital
>Statistics of a Citizen" in which she was naked with measurements being
>taken of her body. Another artist, Eleanor Antin, addressed similar
>concerns in her "Carving: A Traditional Sculpture" in which she
>photographed herself (front, back, left side, and right side) each
>morning of her diet which resulted in a loss of 11 and 1/2 pounds. Both
>of these artworks are statements of the impact of societal ideals
>imposed on women as result of the male gaze.
>Other artists I have thought about teaching are Barbara Kruger, Alice
>Neel, Carolee Scheemann, and Hannah Wilke.
>One issue that I have really struggled with is how can I show art works
>depicting vaginal forms or photos of the female body naked. Or should I
>just avoid these images? But, of course, if I do, the statements made
>would not be as strong. Any suggestions?
>By teaching this lesson, I hope to draw attention to societal ideals
>placed on the female body. I want to show alternative views of the
>female body in order to improve students self-concepts. Views of the
>body is an important issue to deal with in high school because students
>are going through puberty and many are expressing themselves sexually
>for the first time.

You might want to consider the art of Lorna Simpson. She deals with both
the real-life issues of gender, violence and the African-American
experience while prescribing a strange voyeuristic critique of the
constructs of beauty. Simpson does not allow the Gaze to collapse into
something other than a critique of itself by disallowing the viewer to feel
comfortable. Lowery Stokes Sims in "The Mirror:The Other," points out,
"that when one reads about the elaborate criteria of beauty among African
peoples, the relationship between their specific and extensive
investigation of and the evaluation of individuals, (one) finds a striking
parallel in Simpson's work." He argues that within the process of
questioning social constructs, Simpson's art serves to defy the idea that a
unique sense of black beauty has been obliterated by European colonization.

This may be a way to enter into discourse about societal ideals
placed on the female body, and African-American experiences without having
to show art works depicting vaginal forms. Be careful, too, because you
may be treading a thin line between self-censorship and feminist
essentialism. Both are dangerous.

Kevin Michael Tavin Ph.D. Candidate
Dept. of Art Education
The Pennsylvania State University
School of Visual Arts

Respond to this message.