Bridge 4: Refining Research Questions

 Sofia Perevalova


Bridge 4: Connections


READ THIS WORKSHEET CAREFULLY, ALL OF IT. Reviewing your Visual Essay Collage and Abstract, answer all the prompts in Part 1. Considering your Library Explorations I and II, answer all the prompts in Part 2. Upload a copy of this completed worksheet to your Learning Portfolio. Submit on Canvas the URL link to your LP post. Bring the hard copy of this completed worksheet to class on Friday, 13 April.


What is the specific Research Issue or Question on which you reflected and, therefore, that is expressed via and contextualized in your Visual Essay Collage?

What is the significance and influence of Drag on American culture? 

Select the 4 most important symbols in your Collage. Briefly explain the meaning of each one AND how it relates to your specific Research Issue/Question:

1. Ru Paul’s photograph. This is a key symbol in my collage as Ru Paul’s Drag Race is the show that changed the fate of Drag in America as it no longer became taboo. This show has become a staple in American Pop-Culture. 

2. Nan Goldin’s photograph of two drag queens is highly significant to my research. Goldin was among the first artists in America that really brought queer culture to the public through her raw, unfiltered documentation of her friends and members of the queer community. This image is important in my research as it references the time when drag and queer culture were considered taboo. Through her work however society became more aware of queer culture and the struggles members of this community face. 

3.  The photograph of a drag queen in a military uniform is meaningful as in my research I briefly explore drag queens in the military and how they performed infant of soldiers as a way to raise their spirits and bring joy. This image is important as it as significant reference to that aspect of drag in American history. 

4. Dian Arbus’s photograph of a man in drag is important as it was taken at the time where drag, cross-dressing and queer culture was highly taboo. This photograph is symbolic in its meaning and references the way these people were perceived by the public. 

Review the Abstract for your Visual Essay Collage. Identify the 4 most important terms AND the single-most important sentence. List those here:

1. Taboo 

2. Gender Identity 

3. Entertainment 

4. Pop-Culture 

 The intention of drag is to entertain people and bring people together, it has helped many people with their gender identity and self expression. 


Reviewing your Library Exploration I and II research findings, list the titles of the 4 most relevant sources you have found. For each source, specify whether it is a primary or secondary source AND its type (e.g., journal article, book chapter, archive material, newspaper, etc.). IMPORTANT NOTE: Bring hard copies of each of these sources to class on Friday, 13 April:

  1. Brevard, Aleshia. 2001. “Drag Queen.” In Woman I Was Not Born To Be: A Transsexual Journey, pp. 43-62. Temple University Press. 

Book chapter I will be using as a primary source as it explore the gender identity of an individual and the influence being a Drag Queen had. 

2. Couric, Katie. Gender Revolution: A Journey With Katie Couric. Documentary. Produced by Katie Couric. USA: National Geographic, 2017.

This documentary is a secondary source as I am using it to have a better idea of gender identity and the intricate details of queer culture at large. This is important to have in my research as it provides me with a broad yet detailed overview. 

3. Eberwein, Robert. 2007. “DRAG.” In Armed Forces: Masculinity and Sexuality in the American War Film, pp. 87-101. Rutgers University Press. 

This book chapter explores the influence Drag and sexuality had on warfare and how it challenged gender stereotypes. This is a primary source as it provides me with knowledge on gender as a performance and Drags influence on American culture. 

4.  Paul, Ru. Ru Pauls Drag Race: All Stars Season 3. Produced by Ru Paul. Los Angeles: VH1.

This TV show proves me with a visual element to my research. I will be using this as a secondary source. I plan on using this for reference to show how drag is currently influencing American Pop-culture. 

Given how you currently understand your Research Issue, compose 3 specific questions that you would need to address to explain and understand your Research Issue. These questions should all directly connect to the specific focus of your Final Research Paper. Thus, for each question, find a way to be as specific as possible about what in particular you must understand about your topic. These questions should narrow the scope of your topic. Note your questions here:

1. Why was Drag created?

2. How has the perception of Drag changed since it originally became popular in society?

3. How is drag important in gender identity, how has it influenced the ideas about gender in our society today?

Given how you understand the scope of your Research Issue, describe in 2 to 3 complete sentences the environment in which your Research Issue resides. In other words, clearly situate the WHO and WHERE of your analysis for your Final Research Paper. 

My research is focused specifically on American pop-culture. The paper explores the influence specifically American Drag has on American pop-culutre, I chose to do this as there was the most information and I have first hand witnessed how much more relevant drag is in the United States than in the UK for example. While drag has been around since the creation of theatre since only men were allowed to act, I am focusing on drag in the United Sates from the the mid 1900 until now. 

Explain in 2 to 3 complete sentences how that environment in particular is both appropriate and important for understanding your Research Issue.

This environment is important in understanding my research issue as I am focusing on Drag in pop-culture rather than throughout history. Because drag is particularly present in United States pop-culture, it is important to explore it specifically in this environment to understand its current significance. 

Describe in 2 to 3 complete sentences the audience (the reader) for your Final Research Paper. In other words, whom do you imagine would or should want to read this paper? Who would or should be interested in this issue?

I imagine the reader of my paper to be someone who either participates in drag themselves, therefore can provide a critical point of view as well as someone like me who previously was less educated in this field. Both these individuals would be interested in this issue as they both may learn something about the history of drag they previously did not know. It is also important for the people who do not know so much about queer culture and drag to read this as it can show how much pop-culture they see is influenced by drag. 

RDA #2: Participation Observation


This experience as a volunteer at the park was very educational for me. I learned more about gardening and I cleaned the park and got rid of the trash. This experience showed me how much effort goes into maintaining the parks in NYC that we often may take for granted.  I am interested to see how the park will look once everything we planted blooms as it was very barren and empty. I believe that this volunteer program is something that many people could benefit from as it is a nice way to connect with nature and is a big contribution to our local parks.

Integrated Seminar 2: Visual Essay Collage


Formerly a taboo, underground topic, drag has been become a fixture in todays pop-culture. Artists like Diane Arbus, Nan Goldin and Cindy Sherman have been influenced by drag culture and have created serious of works inspired by it. Drag through social media and television has become to a certain extent a daily source of entertainment for people. An aspect of drag which makes it appealing to masses is its humor. The intention of drag is to entertain people and bring people together. It has helped many people with their gender identity and self expression. This collage explores the influence drag has made on society either through visual art or pop culture. Using references from the arts. TV, military, where drag was used to entertain soldiers, as well as daily experiences I associated with gender identity in some way shape or form. 

The Significance of Drag


Integrative Seminar + Studio: Whitney Museum Research

Sofia Perevalova

Integrated Seminar : Visual Culture

Whitney Museum Research


Part 1.


Part 2. Content

Recognizing a Work

2a. Gran Fury’s Women Don’t Get AIDS is a large bus shelter sign with ink on acetate. The purple plaster features an image of women in bathing suits taken most likely at a Miss USA or other nation-wide beauty pageant. The photo in the background was taken by Michael Baytoff and Blackstar. The background is covered in a transparent purple color which creates a striking contrast with the large white block letters and smaller orange text. The color of the piece is what originally caught my eye as there is such a high contrast. Another interesting quality of the work is is due of different fonts. The main message “Women don’t get aids they just die from it” is in large white, capital letters meanwhile the facts supporting this message as well as the credits to the sponsor and photographer are in a much smaller font. While it is still bold and in a bright color I found that it gets somewhat lost compared to the other text. The factual text is placed in the middle of the piece which forces the viewer to read it and take it in.

My initial impression was that this was going to be another protest piece due to the setting and overall concept of the exhibition. Because I went in knowing this was going to be related to some historical event that resulted in protests it was easy to quickly contextualize the piece and estimate the time in which it was created without looking at the label. One thing I did not realize before thoroughly investigating the work its the materiality of it and this was originally a bus shelter sign. I assumed it was simply a piece of plastic that had been printed on.

2b. The material used for this work is a bus shelter sign that has been printed on using ink. Because the medium and materials used are very mainstream and generic this supports the content of the piece. The materiality of the piece supports the pieces ideas as the it is meant to educated everyone, not only the people who would see this in a gallery or museum. Using a bus shelter sign shows how this at the time was an epidemic people were faced with constantly in their daily life, the piece is accessible to the public which makes it a stronger work of art raising awareness about HIV/AIDS.

Part 3. Context

Contextualizing a Work

3a. Immediate context:

  • The text and graphics of the piece work together harmoniously in creating a work of art about women and the problems women face it life. The text draws attention to the cause while the image works as a symbol of how women are often mistreated. The image from the pageant makes you think about how women bodies are sexualized, as their faces are cut off, and women are often not treated as equals. The text and image of the piece work together to raise awareness about gender inequality and the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the US during the 1980s.
    • This piece is part of the Mourning and Militancy component of the Incomplete History of Protest exhibition. This piece a long with the other works in the room specifically relating to AIDS and the politics surrounding it create an eerie feeling. The majority the works in this room at first glance look similar to Pop Art and all feature bright, uplifting colors. However, once you look closer at each piece its context becomes clear. This work amongst the many others in the exhibition grabs attention initially with the bright colors and then draws the audience to look closer at the actual message behind the piece.

3b. Social/cultural/political context:

  • The materials in the work are generic and still used today so it is difficult to judge the exact time it was made if only looking at the materiality. However, because this piece is about AIDS it is easy to place it within a time frame by looking an the works content. The piece was created during the AIDS epidemic in the United States which began in the 1980s. During this time there was a momentous amount of protests demanding government intervention and support for the victims of this disease. The works created during the time all had a relatively similar aesthetic quality as they were mostly plaster and bright colored work to draw attention to the cause. The piece was created in 1991 according to the museum label.
  • Other information that would have been helpful in interpreting the work would be more information on weather or not this piece on a bus shelter sign was actually displayed on bus stops. This information would help with determining whether or not this work was really used to protest. Otherwise the information is easy to interpret as the piece is very factual.

Part 4. Significance

Understanding a Work


4a. Questions.

  • To what extent does the time the work was created influence the concept of the piece?

It is imperative to know the time the piece was created to judge its context. History is key component in art, knowing the time of the piece helps us decide if this piece is powerful in its content. By understanding the time of the piece the educated viewer can easily understand the works meaning and importance. This connects to my research issue as a large portion of my research relies heavily on history and understanding how to contextualize a specifically historical era.

  • What components of the work are most effective in supporting the idea? Materiality or visual content?

In some cases the material used to create the piece supports the idea far more than the actual visual content and vise versa. An example of this is Ai Wei Wei’s backpacks, in contrast to the piece I am looking at where the materialist of the work, while still relevant matters much less than the visual content. Distinguishing which aspect of the work is more important in understanding the context is a useful skill as it helps us form a stronger judgment of what the artist’s intentions. This is important to my research as the idea I am researching is highly materialistic in its nature, therefor understanding the importance of materials is relevant to me.

  • What are the artists intentions with this piece?

The artists intentions of the piece is to raise awareness to a cause that at the time was labeled taboo and there was minimum support to put an end to HIV/AIDS. Because there was lack of support, there was lack of information. In this case the artist is drawing attention to the fact that AIDS is not only a “gay man’s disease” and effects a large amount of women. This is relevant to my research as I plan to explore within my topic gender disparity and how certain aspects of gender have been branded taboo by society.

4b. Library Exploration II

Smith, Terry. 2010. ”The State of Art History: Contemporary Art.” The Art Bulletin 92, no. 4: 366-83.

Reed, Thomas Vernon. 2005. ACTing UP against AIDS: The (Very) Graphic Arts in a Moment of Crisis. The art of protest :culture and activism from the civil rights movement to the streets of Seattle., pp. 179-2018. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Citation of Exhibition:

“An Incomplete History of Protest: Selections from the Whitney’s Collection, 1940–2017” 2017. Whitney Museum of American Art.


Fury, Gran. Women Don’t Get AIDS. 1991. Whitney’s Collection, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.


Library Database Searches

Page 1 of Sources

(ordered from Bobst)

Library Stack Explored (UC Library)





Gran Fury was an artist collective in New York which operated during the AIDS epidemic. This was a collaboration of 11 artists in New York that worked specifically on protest pieces and campaigns to raise awareness about AIDS. The group disbanded soon after this piece was created. Their other work features similar visual elements , Gran Fury used recycled objects like the bus shelter sign and placed their work in public spaces for to inform the public as much as possible. Their work featured text mostly as the aesthetic was simple making the context much more effective. The focus was on the actual message rather than the aesthetics as these work were all protest art. The final piece before the group fell apart was titles “Good Luck…Miss You, Gran Fury” in 1995.

The artist though these works are exploring strictly AIDS activism. This particular piece stood out to me because it was the only piece in the Mourning room, which was mostly AIDS related art, that talked about women and AIDS . This piece brought awareness to an element of AIDS that was even more avoided, the fact that women were also effected.

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.



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