Identity as a Conceptual Framework


Photo #1


Photo #2


For my assignment, I had to take three self-portrait pictures that express my identity.  I decided that my three self-portrait photographs would be on one identity in my life, which is dance. I love dance and it is a huge part of my life. I did not want to get three photographs of various forms of dance that I love, yet one certain dance move and to show the progression of the dance move portrayed in the three photographs. I decided to use the dance move from the French word, la seconds. This dance move is done by spinning with your leg outward while going round and round. The first photo is the prep of the la second. The prep, or preparation, is starting off the dance move in a certain stance so that one can have the right amount of momentum to complete the spin. Then the next shot shows me in motion with my right leg out pointing to the side and it is about to come forward to complete the move; the completion of the move happens in the next photograph. My body comes forward to the front while my arms are stretched into a “T” and my right leg is parallel lifted in the air.

These three photographs completed the progression of a la seconds. I chose to do my self-portraits in this style because it demonstrates the growth of a dancers and the growth I went through as a dancer as well as a person.  The first picture shows a dancer starting off with a prep, not at her full potential but slowly starting off. In the second photo, you see not quite at her full potential but slowly she starting to grow into her full potential. While the third picture you see her full growth and development into the person and dancer that she is with the confidence to shine. I felt as if doing a la second was similar to going through life, how you slowly work your way up to the person you truly are, yet along the way learning how to get through life and growing that way. Even when you fall you get back up. I have fallen many times while doing la seconds and I have struggled it is like life you get over the falls and the struggles and that has made me a stronger dancer and person.

Identify is what a person decides to become and what the define themselves by. You are born with aspects of your identity, such as your family is part of your identity or your race. What race an individual is not what solely determines how a person is, this does not mean that you will make that aspect your entire identity.  Some people do not even know their own nationality so it impossible to be defined by traits such as these. On the other hand, people are defined by what they do. Some people are cheerleaders and that is not something you are born into, it is something you choose to do and something you choose to represent you.  Sometimes we choose peoples identity based off of their looks by stereotyping them. An example would be girls who look really girly we would just assume that they would be into shopping even though the girl could hate shopping and be interested in sports. I think our identities are both physical and psychological. We constitute our bodies as part of our identity. Being the skinny squirrely boy or being the overweight unhealthy girl, that is what we are classified by. Our identity is psychological due to the fact that everything in life is psychological. You put yourself into your own schema and decide who you are and what you represent and those things make up your identity.

 As human beings, we judge others on what they look like a first glance. First impressions matter. Once meeting a person, you come up with the idea of who you think they are and your opinion of them. We, as Americans, are very obsessed with how we look and appear to others. It is part of our culture; our outward appearances are very important and it is a cultural norm for our society. While in other parts of the world, like tribes in the Amazon or villages in the mountains of Peru, outward appearance is not as important. In America, it is important to be thin, to be accepted in society, and to be seen as beautiful. While in regions in Africa there are women who while they are engaged spend three months in a hut called “the fat hut”. The women go in there as healthy, thin women and come out as obese women yet in their culture this is seen as beautiful. I do not think people are every truly themselves nor do I think they ever will be. You will never know yourself due to the fact that we are forever changing and growing as people. No one will ever know who they are because of change.


Photo #3


Fame is a state of being well known. It does not always mean that you are well known or seen in a positive light though. People can be well known for many things.  You can be a serial killer like Charles Mansion who is famous in a negative light. We can also be known and seen in a positive light like Mother Teresa.  Images of individuals can greatly influence fame. Visuals take a great role in painting a portrait of a person. Especially famous people within the media. When we first meet a person we judge them before they even speak. We look at their appearance and judge them immediately, it is human nature and it cannot be helped. So most people do not know famous people so we judge on if we like them or not through visuals. If famous people are portrayed through visuals in a positive perspective, the person is seen as an overall good person and is well liked. Yet if they are portrayed in a negative way they are seen negatively by the public. They are still famous whether they are in a positive light or a negative light.

Anyone can be famous and it is becoming easier than ever. Look at Paris Hilton or the Kardashians, they are frequently labeled for being famous. They have not invented anything, nor do they have any special skills or talents. They do not really better the world. So I fully believe anyone can be famous. Now a days YouTube is a very useful source on becoming famous. It is a way for thousands of people to be discovered. In this day and age super stars are discovered on YouTube like Justin Bebeir.  We are so obsessed with celebrities because we like the idea of them. We like knowing what is going on in their lives. We want to know about their significant others, their babies, and their divorces. We are curious human beings and we want to know it all. We also want to live through celebrities and see the glamour of their life, and see them as role models for our live. We will save up to buy what they buy and wear what they wear. Celebrities often seem to  live forever we immortalize them through their writing, songs or movies. An example in class showed us several pictures of famous people such as Marilyn Monroe and Elvis. Those photographs have been reinvented into posters, mugs, on toothbrushes, everywhere and anywhere.  Marilyn and Elvis are to iconic people that shaped our country with their music movies and styles. The draw backs of being famous are huge. They are not “regular” people so they have no privacy nor do their family or friends. They are always being watched and coveted for their talents, money and fame and being used from them as well. Celebrities images are made by us, the people. A grand mass of people are the ones that make someone famous. We idolize people and put them on a pedestal, us telling them they are great is what makes them great. For this assignment I choose a more rare picture of Mr. Rogers. The show Mr. Rogers Neighborhood  is the classic children show of my generation. Everyone knows Mr. Rogers as a role model for children. Through his show he taught us how M’n’Ms are made and brought us to a land full of imagination.  These photographs do not portray him as a well up holed citizen that we all know him as. These are pictures of him flipping off the camera. A shocking thing for the honorable, respectful man Mr. Rogers. I choose these photos as an example of how it all depends on what visuals we see on how we judge a person or not. Never knowing Mr. Rogers and seeing these photos you would just assume he is an old dude “flipping the bird”.  Yet watching his show you would think that he was a sweet old man. You judge by what you see. This photo is actually taken out of context. Mr. Rogers is teaching a group of students how to count on certain fingers.  Now knowing the reason your opinion has changed about him. It is so interesting how visual lit helps define who is famous and who is not, why they have fame and if they have fame for positive reasons or negative reasons

Religion as a Conceptual Framework

By Andres Serrano

At first glance a “religious” work of art may have the potential of being considered controversial. People often go straight to being offended, before having all the information about the artistic piece. I feel as if it is natural for human beings to react and become offended right off the bat.  I myself fell into this response when seeing the work of art called “Piss Christ”, and an image of the Virgin Mary created with elephant feces.  At first I was very offended and wondered how it could be acceptable to display these items in an art gallery since they seemed to clearly be sacrilegious. However after hearing Sr. Wendy’s explanation that “Piss Christ” is a metaphor for our sins.  The artistic work symbolized that when we human beings commit sin, we “piss” on Jesus’ sacrifice of dying on the Cross for us.  I also learned that in some cultures, elephant poop is a sacred substance and is traditionally used for religious reasons. So having poop on an art work of the Virgin Mary is not intended to be an insult but is acceptable because of the background and intention of the artist.  I learned in this chapter that art does not only make you feel emotions, but it requires you to think and learn.  In a important way it made me open up and comprehend what the artists were trying to communicate.  This helped to see how it is important to not be judgmental, but rather to research and understand all the facts before forming an opinion. 

I feel a rush to judgment robs us of our intellectual and critical freedom. Sometimes we do “follow the crowd” and accept “public opinion” without forming our own thoughts and opinions.  Our culture makes money from controversy and what is seen at first glance can be misleading.  This is especially true when it comes to religion because of the emotion and meaning we give to it.  Together we feel offended and this feeling can pull us together since we have something in common.  Or sometimes we agree with someone else’s beliefs because that person or his/her beliefs are popular.  For example, Oprah Winfrey is very influential pop-culture icon. People believe things because Oprah tells them it is true. They are easily influenced.  This is when it is important to remember you have to gain knowledge and then form an opinion for yourself.  An individual must stand up for his/her thoughts and ideals.  As the saying goes:“If you cannot stand for something, you will fall for anything”.
An “insulting” and “assaulting” image of religion can be considered as positive when seen from your own point-of-view and interpretation. It will all depend on what the image’s meaning is to you. An example of this would be the artistic work, “Piss Christ” which is a photograph picture of a crucifix of Jesus on the cross emerged in urine.  Yet when what the artist is intending to portray is explained, which is that we “pissed” on Jesus and we are disrespectful towards him when we sin, one can see the truth in the piece.  
To create an image that is religiously neutral means to create an image that is an unbiased.  Creating a religious neutral image would not necessarily be harder or easier to make.  Yet, I feel as if this is an impossible thing to do because humans are so different in how they interpret what they see.  The cultural, religious symbolism can be opposite from one part of the world to another. In addition, no two people are absolutely alike, so there will always be room for controversy.  As humans we always seem lean to one side of the fence over the other. Nothing is neutral. 
Wiley and Walker

Wiley and Walker

Tara Spirou 10/10/12 Wiley and Walker ” Race as Conceptual Framework” is an interesting subject. The famous Kehinde Wiley and Kara Walker are both influential African American artists. Each has his/her own unique style represented in his/her art work, yet both … Continue reading



                What exactly is a Readymade?  Well I have learned from my visual literacy class what it is and after reading this hopefully, you will too! Readymade is a form of art work. It is taking one common object and combining it with another common object to be considered a work of art. These objects coexist as art work in a harmonious way.  Readymade Art has no rules or limits except that the object(s) used are to be only SLIGHTLY altered. Besides that rule, you can virtually do anything. You can add writing, change color and last but not least, you can sign it. Now you have your new piece of art work! How can we sign a common object and say it was our creation and call it art? Sounds too easy?

Some have thought that these pieces of art are just “junk”, but the creator of Readymade Art, Marcel Duchamp disagreed. Duchamp had a few ideas about readymade. He showed that art does not have to be the traditional paint strokes on a portrait. Art can come in all different shapes and sizes. The skilled painting does not qualify any more as art than does the candle glued to a chair readymade.

Another theory of Duchamp is that creating art is a two way street. The first point of view is that of the artist that is doing the creating.  The other point of view is that of the viewer. The viewers are the ones that declare a piece as good art, bad art or not art at all. You see Duchamp wants the viewers as well as the artists to stop putting limits on art by giving it rules as to what can constitute as art and what simply can’t.   He wanted pieces of art to be more about the ideas that they bring about, than the owning expensive works.  Every day, commonplace, meaningless objects could become works of art.  Duchamp’s theories changed the way we look at art.

For Visual Literacy class I am instructed to enlighten all of you readers about Readymade and some of Duchamp theories which I have done.  Yet I also need to take a whack at it myself by attempting to make my own Readymade and then explain my “artwork”.  It must be one object that has been changed very slightly. My Readymade has to be able to be copied, so that another one could be made and look exactly the same. Last but not least when first looking at my Readymade the viewer must not see what has been altered?  Only on very close examination would he/she be able to tell.

This is a picture of my readymade. As you can see it is a Halloween rubber ducky dressed as a mummy. At first glance you see it is simply a child’s play toy, nothing really more to that. Yet once you get a closer look, the view reveals that there is a tack and tiny holes all over the ducky. When first looking at the object, we see and think of childhood. A person might look at it and reminisce about a childhood memory with his/her own ducky. One sees the innocence of a child away from the world’s problems enjoying the blissful ignorance all children should enjoy. Yet when you see the tack placed in the ducky it makes the readymade much more complicated. In a way it keeps the ducky from fulfilling its purpose, because it can’t float now. It has been damaged by the holes created by the tack. This represents that when a child is first brought into the world it is innocent, but like the ducky a person will become damaged. However the message is that though everyone becomes damaged by life in some way, just as the ducky it is still art and is still beautiful, a person’s life can still have purpose and can still be beautiful. Damaged yes, but it still has purpose? Though the purpose is changed from the original purpose is it still significant? Yes.

My Readymade reminded me of one of Duchamp’s Readymades, called Reproducible (not unique). The piece gives a well-known painting that already had meaning and completely changed it by adding a simple mustache and goatee. For example, the Mona Lisa stood for something and then was completely altered by the adding of a mustache. With the stache the amazing, priceless piece of art work is damaged. It is damaged yet still has purpose and still keeps her beauty, by adding warmth, humor and lightness.

My advice to you reader, do a DIY and try to make your own Readymade!



Tara’s World!


My name is Tara Spirou and you are currently reading my college blog! I am a Chicago girl born and raised.  I am currently a sophomore at Holy Cross College in Notre Dame, IN, where I am pursuing a bachelor’s degree in communications and a minor in art.  Currently, I am registered in a visual literacy course. This course is all about learning how to read in depth at anything you look. We will discover how to see the symbolism and the metaphors behind each visual artwork. Some examples of this “visual artwork” would be: painting, photography, drawings, sculptures and anything else that could constitute as art. Visual literacy surrounds us in everyday life like film, art, advertisement, digital images. I am taking this visual literacy class to help me expand my knowledge and understanding of art, and to interpret it from a new perspective. An example of my experience in viewing and interpreting visual culture would be a museum setting. When I attend the Art Institute of Chicago, I examine the art work and try understand what each work of art means. I am a bit nervous about learning something so new, but also excited and picking up on the new skill to understand artwork in a new light. I do have to say that i am a bit nervous about blogging though. I have never blogged or ever read blogs before. I am dyslexic and not the best writer, although I am nervous about learning this new skill called blogging I hope that I will improve in my writing as well. By having people read what I write, I am apprehensive that they are critiquing my ability to express myself in writing. Blogging will help me become more involved in class in a new way, different than I have experienced in any other class. Because all of  my classmates have blogs as well, I will be able to see each persons inner thoughts on the various assigned projects. I will begin to recognize visual literacy in addition to gaining the knowledge as well as become a better critic, spectator, and creator.