Babe Cave: Reclaiming Femininity Through Painting

Open Access
Author:
Kircher, Lindsey
Area of Honors:
Art
Degree:
Bachelor of Fine Arts
Document Type:
Thesis
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Brian Walter Alfred, Thesis Supervisor
  • Brian Walter Alfred, Honors Advisor
  • John Richard Bowman, Faculty Reader
Keywords:
  • Painting
  • Art
  • Women
  • Nature
  • Environment
  • Empowerment
  • Landscape
  • Animals
  • Abjection
Abstract:
In many Western societies, our dominant belief systems are derived from Ancient Greek philosophy, which explains that humans are superior to nonhuman animals and nature because they possess reason, or the ability to think rationally. As technology has developed over time, these ideas have justified human mistreatment of nature as a means of growth and prosperity. One could argue that factory farming, clear-cutting growth forests, and unmanaged toxic landfills are modern-day manifestations of these exploitative ethics. In this thesis, I evaluate how the work of Ana Mendieta, Kiki Smith, Jenny Saville, and other female artists over the last half-century challenges anthropocentrism and disrupts its perilous implications. By exploring the connections between women and landscape, women and animals, and women and abjection, I explain how my own work aligns with these artists to dismantle a constructed hierarchy of species. References to historical and cultural examples of human-nature relationships strengthen the associations that my work facilitates between women and the environment. I hope that this thesis encourages the reader to question our interactions with the planet and consider an alternative ecological perspective.