Megan Farley

Engender

Senior Project April 2013

Artist Statement:

My Senior Project addresses the issue of gender stereotypes and the exploitative depiction of women in entertainment. This is not a new concept in feminist art, but I have chosen to explore sequential illustration as a means of approaching the subject matter. In doing so, I have employed a form of entertainment media that has a long history of ignoring the female consumer base as well as promoting negative gender roles and unrealistic body images. There is emphasis on the way women, minorities, homosexuals, and transgender individuals, be they real people in the public theatre or fictional characters, are popularized for superficial qualities rather than by actions of merit as well as the way that stereotypes influence how individuals present themselves. These works are meant not only to illuminate these media tropes but also the way that our choices and preferences shape our entertainment.

The brief story I have illustrated follows three characters as they strive to be role models and to do good in the world. This struggle is satirized with pop culture references and by making the characters super heroes, a role that is appropriate for the medium but also has personal resonance with me. I grew up reading graphic novels and comic books and the depiction of female super-heroes as physically idealized and hyper-sexualized but ultimately trivial individuals next to the men in their lives left a lasting impression. These women often literally have the power to move mountains but not to break out of the roles assigned to them by their male creators. The characters in my work's efforts are hampered by the perpetrators of mass media and by the consumers themselves. These are their villains. In viewing my work I want people to come away with a greater awareness of the disparity between what they see in their entertainment and the reality around them. It is my hope that this will help them to view (and potentially, choose) their entertainment differently.

To create the black and white, sequential illustrations I used graphite first on Strathmore smooth Bristol 200 series. Then each image is inked using traditional metal nib pens as well as several different sizes and shapes of synthetic and natural bristle brushes in a technique utilized by professionals in sequential art publishing. The variety of tools allows me great control over the weight of my marks but the use of a brush has a spontaneity with which I tried to give the stark, graphic images some energy. In addition to pen and ink, I used watercolour, chalk pastels, and markers to create the four colour pieces, all on Bristol 300 series.


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