Self-Portrait II: Resources

This notion of a self-portrait shaped by theological, philosophical and intersectional feminism has been a curiosity of mine for about a year now and I figured it was time start (trying) to name the particular interests and questions. One of the ways I can focus this investigation is by looking at how the “self” is thought through by specific thinkers, artists, books, ideas, and experiences. In other words, how does X conceptualize the “self?” Here are the (academically acclaimed?) artists, books, thinkers and ideas that are helping me to think about the “self” in a more systematic fashion:

  1. Artists:

Joan Semmel: Works with oil paints on canvas and has painted many nudes of herself. She had worked with feminist art-groups around the world and I am especially interested in her “Me Without Mirrors” series in which she paints what she can see of her own nude body.

Jenny Saville: Works with oil paints and paints female bodies, transvestite bodies and explores flesh and concepts of gender.

Aleah Chapin: Works with oil paints and paints mostly nude female bodies. I don’t know if she has done an exploration into self-portraits but her subject material (i.e. grey haired women or pregnant women) may not be insignificant in the conceptualizing her “self.”

  1. Books:

Toni Cade Bambara’s The Salt-Eaters, 1992.: A novel that explores the possibilities of healing for Velma Henry who is broken and her healing rests, in part, in the relationships and wisdom of spiritual leaders.

Carol Gilligan’s In A Different Voice, 1982.: Contemporary American psychologist and feminist who constructs an ethics of care from the perspective of academic psychology and does a study on the connections of gender and conceptions of the self.

Elizabeth Johnson’s Friends of God and Prophets: A Feminist Theological Reading of the Communion of Saints, 1999.: Contemporary Christian theologian who focuses on the communion of saints as an integral component in thinking through ecclesial practices today and one’s life as a Christian.

Catherine Mowry LaCugna’s God for Us: The Trinity and Christian Life, 1993.: Late 20th century Catholic systematic theologian describes the Trinity as three full persons (as opposed to “ways”) and offers up an ontology of a creaturehood as absolutely relational.

Marsha Meskimmon’s The Art of Reflection: Women Artists’ Self-Portraiture in the Twentieth Century, 1996.: I have not yet read this text. I am only familiar with this book from a google-search but it has been on my “to-read” list for quite some time and I suspect that it will provide me with questions and connections that I have yet to know.

Gillian Rose’s Love’s Work, 2011.: A British Continental Philosopher who wrote this memoir as she was dying from Cancer. Her love of philosophy translates into how she recounts and reflects on significant people, places and events in her life.

Adrienne Rich’s Of Woman Born: Motherhood as Experience and Institution, 1995.: Poet who reflects on how motherhood shapes particular notions of the self.

Charles Taylor’s A Secular Age, 2007.: Contemporary Canadian philosopher who demonstrates how a particular kind of “self” is played out in present-day Western societies. I will focus on his chapters “The Immanent Frame” and “Conversions.”

The Artist’s Body edited by Tracey Warr, 2012.: This text is a survey of how artists have used their own bodies as ways of exploring specific ideas. One of the interesting things this text offers to my investigation is how the body is used to explore ideas apart, but not inextricable, from the artist’s self. All this is to say that the body cannot be reduced to the self. And, I will argue, the self cannot be reduced to the body.

  1. Thinkers:

bell hooks, contemporary Black-American essayist, fiction-writer, poet, coined “white-supremacist-capitalist-patriarchy:” writes and speaks extensively on popular culture, and oppressive systems in the U.S. often with regard to race and gender. Personal stories and memoirs are often woven throughout her work and I am interested in how her “self” is shared with the public through his engaged methodology.

Harry Huebner, contemporary Mennonite philosophical theologian, farmer, my professor: how he uses autobiographical information as a kind of starting-point when introducing the arguments of X theologian.

Audre Lorde, late 20th century Caribbean-American poet, civil-rights activist, essayist, lesbian: writing and telling your own stories as a way to fill out who you are and your own stories and histories are inextricable from the histories and stories from many different communities of peoples (hence the social activism).

Ludwig Wittgenstein, 1940’s German Mathematician and Philosopher, white, anti-social, cis-gay man: creatures occupy a particular form of life and live out of and into corresponding moral frameworks that shape the self.

Crunk Feminist Collective blog.

  1. Ideas:

– “Selfies” as empowering.

– “Oppressor” as an inextricable part of my “self.”

– Identity politics (of sexual orientation, gender, race, ability, age, religion, culture, geography, (in)formal education, economic status…) negotiated in the ecclesial practice of baptism – a new polity of One body.

– The “self” not as a sum of her parts.

– An investigation into the “self” as narcissistic.

About Lisa

Besides sleeping, I spent most of my time making things. For the most part, oil paint is my preferred medium to work and think with.

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