Date of Award

Summer 8-2020

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Program/Concentration

Humanities

Committee Director

Vittorio Colaizzi

Committee Member

Tim Anderson

Committee Member

Richard Nickel

Abstract

Feminist art consisting of explicit, provocative, and politically charged imagery is common in the university setting and the wider art world. Although this freedom from inhibition certainly functions as a valuable source of inspiration for those fortunate enough to participate in the institution of higher education, content of this nature potentially works against feminism’s goals by excluding the youngest audience at the moment they are forming ideas about gender relations; students at the K-12 level. As a public-school art educator, I am faced with strict censorship policies that make it difficult to include students in the ongoing feminist conversation by sharing iconic feminist artists such as Carolee Schneeman and Lynda Benglis. Given the current political climate in the United States, in which a culture of sexual assault is perpetuated, feminist activism is more visible and necessary that ever. Using Antonio Gramsci’s theory of cultural hegemony, I argue that this movement’s emergence into mainstream culture as well as the graphic and often divisive content of some of the major artworks associated with it keeps the patriarchal power structure firmly in place through exclusion from public discourse. American painter Maureen Gallace (b.1960) and British painter Cecily Brown (b. 1969), who are known, respectively, for serene landscapes and gestural expressionism that integrates or camouflages figurative elements, have both been criticized for seeming to avoid direct agitation, instead indulging in an excessively conservative and traditionally male-dominated style of painting. Artists like these, who appear to have opted out of overwhelmingly confrontational feminist iconography, are perhaps arguing the most effectively. By eluding controversy through passive resistance, the seemingly mundane is able to evade censorship, disrupt the expectations of polarized perspectives and claim the goals of feminism: autonomy for the woman as both artist and citizen.

DOI

10.25777/5wze-6g55

ORCID

0000-0002-0682-1956

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