In The Eye Of The Beholder
by Hillary Mueller
What makes the female body beautiful? Is it based only upon sensual attraction predetermined by culture in which a particular women lives? Is it governed by age, attitude, form, surface, or gesture? “A century ago, American culture valued “good work.” Today we value “good looks.” And the bodies we worship are the most difficult to obtain–shapes achieved through starvation, steroids, strenuous workouts and plastic surgery.”(Michael Guilfoil) Contemporary artists are investigating the female body as a unique canvas. For example, Barbara Zucker, creates art by regularly having plastic surgery to reshape her form. In my work I want to explore the splendor of abstract women’s bodies showing only the torso from mid thigh up to the neck and shoulders. Each figure will have another figure standing next to it holding the exact same pose. The difference between the figures however is that one is a voluptuous, curvaceous woman and the other is an emaciated, pencil like figure. By having the two figures directly next to one another, I hope that the viewers will think intently on which one appeals to their idea of what is beautiful.
Problems have been encountered during the time of my project. The wet weather made it extremely hard for the clay bodies to reach the appropriate consistency. Also, the chemicals needed to achieve the surface detail have been exceptionally difficult to find. This has slowed the firing process. However, it was well worth the wait because the figures express the point I was trying to reach. They contrast each other in many ways making the viewer look internally and come to a conclusion of what they feel is beautiful. The surface qualities, furthermore, play on this idea of contrasting ideas. A portion of the body is smooth with a gold luster applied and an iridescent appearance, while the other section is intensely patterned and shows only the natural clay body. I achieved these different patterns by rubbing unusual textured fabrics into the firm, yet malleable clay surface. By working on this project, I have focused in on what I would like to keep creating in the years to come, abstract female figures. I feel as if this project is a success and has helped my personal development in the field of sculpture by further enhancing my skills.