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Florida Gulf Coast University
10501 FGCU Blvd, South
Fort Myers, FL 33965-6565
(239) 590-1000 or (800) 590-3428

AMANDA MARTIN

DYSMORPHIC DISCONNECT

Senior Project APRIL 2017

In an age where media defines what is ideal, most people have lost the ability to be comfortable with their bodies. Our society obsesses over body image to the point that it impedes our happiness. We worry too much about the weight and shape of our bodies; about what we eat and how what we eat makes us the way we are.  An extreme form of this habit is called Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD); an individual with BDD fixates on a single part of their body until it consumes their every thought. People who suffer from BDD see themselves as abhorrently ugly, and will turn to extreme measures such as plastic surgery or excessive makeup to improve their appearance. To what degree do we not all suffer from this? It’s important to realize we are not alone in these thoughts, and that sharing them can relieve stress and loosen the expectations we place on our bodies to be “ideal”.


In this project, I explore my own body and the obsessive thoughts I’ve had about my perceived flaws. I thought my body was this detached thing I carried with me, like a clunky backpack weighing me down. There were parts of me I once fantasized about cutting off so I wouldn’t have to see them
ever again. I would stare at the same mole, freckle, or blemish for days hoping it would disappear. For the work in this exhibition I created replicas of how I saw myself, very aware that what was in my head was beyond reality. My view turned from a negative outlook into something almost scientific, especially in the number of lumps I included on my forms or where I accentuated curves and creases in my ceramic works. Instead of producing my whole body, I decided to focus on areas of interest like my armpit or nose to showcase my strange and unordinary findings. These discoveries took on a humorous tone, especially when I chose a bright yellow color palette. I used my body as the punchline to my own joke. If you can’t laugh at yourself, then how can you laugh at all?


My method starts with keeping a daily journal of my thoughts. I photographed each area of obsession and sketched how I saw it in my mind.  Pastel drawings helped bring these thoughts to life before moving to the larger forms. I have chosen clay because of its similarity to skin and flesh, and the way it can be pinched, poked and pushed. This three-dimensional medium is essential to my process of analyzing my body and all of its exaggerated flaws.  When creating each body part I consider details such as skin folds, creases, pimples and indented pores. I make the forms solid, and as they dry I carve out the weight from the back. The hollow objects takes about 4 days to dry, and by that time the work is ready for the first firing, the bisque, which solidifies the form. The bright colorful underglaze on the fired form is meant to juxtapose the subject matter with humor and complete the work.