Final Project Proposal

Thesis Question: What does American Western Culture say about gender and status in the United States at large?

  • What does American money say about gender perception in the US?
  • What objects I need to explore to decipher why women are treated in a certain way in Western culture?
  • If I were to explore gender and power how much importance does money play in my research?

Images from Pop Culture (specifically Western movies)


Images I collected in Texas

Visual Images From Artists

Damien Hirst Pharmacy

Damien Hirst Snowblind

Stella McCartney

Stella McCartney

Mediums: I plan on using the laser cutter, plastic, printing (graphics lab)


For my project I plan on creating a large scale installation piece which comments on gender and status in the West. I was inspired by Western movies and by my own connection to Texas. Through the research on this work and the production itself I plan on exploring my own cultural identity as I am half Texan.



Because my project consists largely of found objects, creating a prototype was not really possible. I so far have researched how to record a phone call, ordered my materials and am rewatching Giant to find the useful scenes for the background projection.  What is not working for me currently is finding “female” objects other than a doily related to Texas. I am also unsure how exactly I am going to present my project. I have sketched out several option, but think that presenting it in the class room will take away from the experience I am trying to convey with my piece.


Taxonomy Questions

20 Questions

  1. Image 1: Looking at Rocco portraiture, a status symbol at the time, what connection can I make with modern day status symbols?
  2. Image 15: By looking at this image which contrasts Medieval symbolism of wealth, status and the ideals of beauty with modern day art work which has become a key status symbol, is it possible to find a link to gender? Because artists creating these works are male what does it say about how it is considered a status symbol?
  3. Image 16: Is the depiction of women nude in art meant to be empowering or sexualizing depending on the gender of the artist/the women’s background?
  4. Image 17: How does an object become a symbol of status?
  5. Image 20: If I were to explore gender and power how much importance does money play in my research?
  6. Image 6: As gender I explore gender and status, what daily objects subconsciously dictate gender and status?
  7. Image 9: What does American money say about gender perception in the US?
  8. Image 32: If I’m going to explore gender and power, how much of my research will be influenced by history?
  9. Image 5: As I explore how status relates to gender, what do I need to know about how sexuality has dictated gender roles in the world?
  10. Image 29: If I am going to explore gender, more specifically women empowerment, what importance should the depiction of the body play in my exploration?
  11. Image 27: If I were to explore how identity connects to gender and power, how can this object help me understand the importance of identity?
  12. Image 25: If I were to explore women empowerment, how will paintings influence my topic?
  13. Image 19: How do sacred objects throughout history influence the perception of gender, as many of them could be considered gendered?
  14. Image 12: How do different materials and textures convey gender and status?
  15. Image 2: If I were to explore women empowerment, what questions should I ask myself about how the female body is constantly sexualized?
  16. Image 18: By exploring objects that relate to gender and status, what can be said about the actual importance of these objects?
  17. Image 33: To what extent does pop culture dictate the perception of gender and status in our society?
  18. Image 31: How do the relationships we form influence our “gender role”?
  19. Image 14: If I were to explore gender and status from a historical perspective, what questions do I need to ask myself about warfare and its influence on life?
  20. Image 23: How can technology influence gender?

What location did you visit for your visual research and what did you find?

I visited the MET as I am fascinated by Rococo portraiture and Ancient statues. In the MET I found that most objects meant to symbolize status feature  predominately male figures. This supported my research on the connection of status to gender. Other places where I found my images were at home, restaurants, the streets of New York and galleries.

How did the locations (museum/gallery/etc.) you visited expand/broaden/deepen your understanding of your topic? (this could be visual, contextual, historical, material based, etc.)

I believe that my visit to the MET provided an interesting contrast to the modern images I collected from my daily life. The MET allowed me to explore my topic from a historical point of view, which would have been difficult to do otherwise. This was important as my the core of my topic revolves around history and how our society has developed over time to form these ideas about status and gender. The Whitney was also influential in my research as the contrast between modern and classical art provided me with more insight on how our society has evolved with its perception of gender. Exploring the objects at home allowed my to see how much of my own life is dictated by these ideas. Since the other places I collected my images from were also places I spend a lot of time in recreationally it was challenging to find objects relation to my topic. However, this was also interesting as I was able to explore these places from a completely different angle and with a purpose. These places deepened my understanding of my topic as it made me realize just how ingrained gender and status are in our society not only from an artistic/pop-culture point of view, but on an individual scale as it dictates a large portion of our daily lives.

List the symbols, metaphors and visual references you put in your taxonomy and explain how/why they are relevant/important to your topic.

Portraiture was a major component of my taxonomy as though the investigation of how the individual is portrayed in the piece shows how gender has been represented in art throughout history. The miniature portraiture on the snuffboxes I saw at the MET created a strong link between portraiture and status as they were a major wealth symbol in France.  Through portraiture the artists also created sacred objects for example the two African pieces in my taxonomy. This provided me with an interesting perceptive on how gender plays a role in sacred religious practices.

Another visual reference seen in my taxonomy is clothing. This is significant as clothes are some of the most gendered objects in the world and are also a big status symbol for many. Through my investigation of clothing/accessories I was able to take my research to a new level as previously it was mostly based on art, which made it harder to apply to daily life.

A third symbol which I found significant was color. My taxonomy featured several images that were predominantly pink. Color is something that has over time becoming gendered, what surprised me was that I was naturally drawn to the objects featuring the color pink – a color that is often considered a very feminine color. This made me curious if colors actually have a gender and what perspective that could provide on my topic as colors have so much symbolism behind them already.

What did you learn from Monday’s critique about your taxonomy that was new or helpful?

Because my theme is so broad I found critique very helpful. I was provided with a variety of ideas on how I could make my research more specific, what themes I could look at and even possible outcomes for my final project. An idea that appealed to me is looking at Western American culture, specifically Western movies and investigating how gender is portrayed. This appealed to me as I’ve wanted to do a project where I explore the other half of my cultural identity in some way as I am half  Texan. I also found critique helpful in simply hearing how my images were decoded by other, creating a new dimension to my taxonomy.

Object Redesign Part 1: Material Profile + Ecodesign Strategies

JEANS – cotton, metal, dye


  1. Extraction and processing: Cotton is extracted from a plant and goes through a long process to create the thread from which the fabric for the jeans is woven.
  2. Safety/toxicity: Cotton is organic, however there may be presence of toxic pesticides which could be carcinogenic. If the cotton is organic then it is safe and non-toxic.
  3. Responsible disposal: Cotton is renewable and biodegradable. Cotton can be recycled into other products, it is treated similarly to paper in recycling facilities.


D. Potential substitutes: only use 100% organic cotton.

Metal (zippers, buttons)

  1. Extraction and processing: The metal used for zippers and buttons in the jeans is typically made in brass, aluminum and nickel. The zipper is created by molding the metals into the shape. Zippers are mainly produced by the Japanese company YKK.
  2. Safety/toxicity: Mass produced in factories leading to pollution. The metals used are usually exported from China or India. The mining of these metals is often not done responsibly and leads to pollution, contamination and loss of biodiversity. Both the mining and production are harmful to human and environmental health. Transporting these zippers to the manufacturer also leads to fuel emissions.
  3. Responsible disposal: The zippers are made from non-renewable resources. However, the zippers can be reused. Over 20 years ago YKK pledged to be more sustainable and reproduces zippers from recycled materials. YKK is coinsous about producing the highest quality products and strives to be environmentally friendly.

D. Potential substitutes: Use polyester free zippers


  1. Extraction and processing: Dye is created using indigo, a natural dye extracted from the leaves of certain plants. On average a pair of jeans requites 3-12 grams of indigo. The indigo is extracted and oxidized which created the blue color. The fermented leaf solution is then mixed with a strong base like lye and powdered. After the the powder is mixed with other chemicals to create the desired dye. Historically it is a natural process, however a large percentage currently produced is synthetic.
  2. Safety/toxicity: While natural indigo is low in toxicity the mordants and other chemicals used to create the dye are highly toxic and in come cases carcinogens. The pecticides used for the actual plant are toxic and cause run-off and pollute nearby land and water. Natural dyes are more labor-intensive which is synthetic dyes are often used. If the chemical dyes are not treated properly they are harmful to the health of the factory workers as wealth as the environment.
  3. Responsible disposal: Before disposal the pH of the dye most be checked and the dye must be neutralized. Disposing irresponsibly will lead to pollution and potentially the eutrophication of nearby water sources.
  4. Potential substitutes: Use only organic dye that does not contain carcinogens and pollutants. Extract Inigo from farms that do not use toxic pesticides and fertilizers.



IS2: Bridge 2 Final

  1. My topic is gender and power. I began my diptychs working with a single image of the Queen. I then created a larger series featuring the Queen, but this time it was the UK banknotes which feature her. After these diptychs I decided to expand on the idea of gender and power. I liked my idea about money and the faces on it as well therefore I combined the two. The final outcome was 2 diptychs, one plexi, one mirror. These diptychs each had one panel featuring the US currency which all feature only men on them. The other panel had a collection of banknotes from all around the world that feature women. Through these iterations my topic evolved into a larger discussion about gender, power and misogyny in the US.
  2. I explored materials such as marker, paint, gold leaf and plastic. I also attempted to explore silk screen. The material I found was most successful in supporting my work was the mirrored plastic as it added another dimension to the piece making it an installation piece. The gold leaf was also successful as it exaggerated the idea of power, opulence and wealth in my diptychs featuring the Queen
  3. The markers were not successful at supporting my topic as it added no other meaning to the piece.

My topic touches upon a large variety of contexts. While the majority of the content in my diptychs is an exploration of history specifically monarchy. It can also be interpreted as an exploration of pop culture as the Queen has been used as almost a kitschy symbol in punk music, she has been painted by pop artists such as Andy Warhol and her life has been made into a TV series. I also explored politics through my use of banknotes in my pieces. Through the use of currency I also explored economics. By using banknotes, a daily object in the life of most people, I connected my topic to contemporary culture and consumerism. It is difficult for me to point out exactly what context my topic as a part of as it connects to such a variety of issues.