Course Description

This interdisciplinary fine arts course results in the development of a body of work around contemporary art topics. Research, concept development and studio practice will combine to broaden your skills and ideas. Stimulating assignments together with experimentation promote analysis and understanding of contemporary art ideas, world cultures and historical periods, and other areas of visual information. Studio production and the communication of concepts visually, verbally and in written form will be combined in this thought-provoking course

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Comparing Identities

As you have been exploring identity and reflecting on the different influences and circumstances that may shape your identity, you have perhaps formulated and articulated who you are and who you are not. You should also be thinking about and exploring identity on a broader / universal level as opposed to a personal level. This is where ideas of stereotypes, metaphors and juxtaposition may develop. 

Contrast and compare these images in the context of identity. What do they say about identity in general, how do you perceive the identity, how might these relate to the individual or to a group. Are there stereotypes involved? What else do you see in these pieces?


  1. I will start with the first image. When I first started looking at it I felt a very figurative form was there. And then I started to see an image of a woman with her arms around a baby. I think the fact that I attached the image to that idea has a lot to do with how I grew up. My mother is very caring, at times overly caring. But because her first reaction to me is normally a hug I associate many shapes and images with figures, and in this case caring about another person.

    The second image I struggle with. I can't seem to get past the stereotype that is associated with it. All I can see is Drama Club, or Theater, or over the top. Not that I don't love those things, I do. But Those are honestly the first words that popped into my head.
    After looking further I started thinking about ancient times, with the Romans and Greeks. How they used gold masks in their shows, both private and public. It seems like a very historical and more rich image now.

    THe last image I'm not sure what to think of. I thought of a gas mask at first, I know it's scuba but that's what I thought of. IT makes me think about identities emerging. The parts of us that we possibly have only begun to see and understand. ALso it makes me think of Hiding identities, and distance. Just a space of mystery and kind of a unnerving feeling.

  2. Overall, I noticed that the main similarity that these three images have are that they are literally masks or have the appearance of masks. The first looks like a painting, the second is more sculpture like, and the third appears to be a photograph of a mask.

    The first image is the most mysterious of the three to me. I can see a crown-like object and a face along with the mask. Masks can be used in many different ways however, I feel that this mask is meant to hide of disguise someone or something because it is so ambiguous. As soon as I see a facial feature it shifts and I begin to see something else.

    With the second image I have to agree with Brie. I immediately think of of the stereotypical theater symbol too. It's hard not to, but it got me thinking that masks have been used historically and culturally throughout our existence. The theater mask along with tribal, religious, and ceremonial masks play an important role in our cultures and story telling. Taking that into consideration it is interesting to me that we as humans can all recognize the symbolism of the theater mask and how it relates to who we are.

    The third image is of the scuba diving mask and it makes me think of how amazing it is that there are inventions like scuba masks, gas masks, and others that exist. We use masks in this way for protection and exploration.

    Masks are used for human identity as tools of story telling, art and disguise, protection from the elements, and exploration. Something interesting happens with the tree images together. I'm not sure if I would have related these thoughts to the images without comparing them together. So I do feel that it is important that they were displayed together. Masks and identity seem to go hand in hand. They are a great metaphor for understanding identity and whether it is painting, sculpture, or invention these masks can all stand for something.

  3. I have stared at the first image for quite a while, and am still not entirely sure what it is I am supposed to see. I see different eyes and heads within it and overall has this silly and mysterious feel to it. The second image, is a mask that is shows a specific expression, that to me appears to be scared but smiling. This mask gives the person who wears it a permanent expression. The identity is already previously and permanently chosen. The last image is a mask that prepares its wearer to encounter an environment he/she is not made to survive in. These all are simply just facial coverings, they don't change the internal identity, just what is seen physically. The second image changes how people perceive the individual, while the third serves as more of an adaption for an identity.

  4. The first image is the easiest one for me to see identity in. I see it as someone's interpretation of their own identity. There are shapes in it that seem to indicate a face, but it's broken up in such a way that it sends a message of confusion and madness. At the same time those two feelings are contrasted by the bright colors and shapes. There is almost the form of a smile. If I knew the history of the painting or the artist who did it, I'm sure that would help explain more of it. Even without those facts, it seems very personal and honest.
    It seems that there is such a drastic difference between the first image and the second two. The second two images are of masks. Masks hide who a person is. Masks can give a fake identity and the wearer can take on another role or character. The first of the two masks is a theater mask. The wearer of that mask can only have one emotion unless he changes into a different mask. This idea can tie into identity in the sense that some people change completely depending on the setting they are in and the people they are with. They change roles or "masks" every time they go somewhere. I think it is also interesting how both of these masks obscure anyone from seeing the wearer's eyes, but there are still shapes on the masks that suggest eyes.
    The second mask image looks like a gas mask to me. These kind of masks are normally used to protect against toxins or harsh climates of some sort. I think that sometimes people put up fake identities to protect themselves from things that are unknown or things that they are afraid of. The pretend to be someone that they aren't to fit in or to "survive" in a setting they aren't sure of. The second two images place the wearer in an already made up identity that is not their own. I think that is why they seem so impersonal when compared to the first image.

  5. These are three very different images ranging from painting, to sculpture, to practical object. The two 3D images are easily recognizable as masks and being grouped into that category. The first painting however somewhat resembles a face or a mask so I would eventually group them all together as masks or face coverings. I do not see any stereotypes in these images because nothing is out right for any particular group, they are all in a way very general. The painting is the most vibrant of the three and stands out as the first image you concentrate on, the other two, I believe, most people have seen in their lifetime and realized what they were. The painting requires you look at it a little bit more in depth. The bronze mask can sometimes being correlated to theatre and play productions, but here I get the sense it is meant to be mocking the happy mask by being so over the top happy it looks almost painful. This is the mask I think some people may wear on a day to day basis to hide their identity and emotions. After looking at the third image for the umpteenth time I look and see that is indeed not just a photographed SCUBA mask or respirator but more of Industrial Design concept with creative details to make it look more artistic.

  6. When I look at the first image I see it as being very festive. It looks to me as something that knows how to have a good time, alone. It reminds me of someone that is dancing by themselves. The use of color and the shapes to me create alot of movement in this figure and I feel that the artist wanted to convey something active and playful. The second image to me seems to be a play on ethnicity. The fact that the piece is a mask makes me feel that the mask represents some sort of a stereotype. The mask is distorted and exaggerated like stereotypes tend to be. The scuba mask feels to me to be an expression of personality. It feels like someone who is shy yet bold at the same time. I feel that the mask and the dark contrast reminds me of someone that is subdued, and anti social yet the bold color tells me that they still want attention.

  7. All of these pieces relate to identity through the face. This is important because we first recognize people through their face. Then the rest of their being is recognized secondly. The first image expresses the inner beauty and aura of an individual. The second expresses emotion. And the third represents a extended, outside representation of a individual.

  8. These comments are actually from Silver
    If the first image was created with the intention of conveying some identity, it seems to me the artist is fractured in some way. The forms overlap and run through each other indicating a sense of lost unity.

    The second image is intriguing. It is a mask. This facet of the image alone indicates the desire to hide ones identity. The fact that it is evoking a smiling face makes me feel like the identity that it speaks to is one that is forced to hide negative emotions, rather than express them.
    The third image, also a mask, reveals the necessity to protect oneself from outside dangers. When looked at through the context of identity, it seems to me this image indicates a person who feels threatened in some way.

    Silver Corbin

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