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Formal fluidity: the blending performance of gender, identity, and art making




Gillespie, Spencer, author
Osborne, Erika, advisor
Leal, Francisco, committee member
Riep, Dave, committee member
Lehene, Marius, committee member

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My art, like life, is in a constant state of flux. I bring a personal and unique history to the making process each time I enter the studio. My work is visually autobiographical with written text and expressive mark making. I deal with thoughts of mental health by journaling on the surface of my paintings. I use my body to physically express and work through thoughts of sadness or joy. Throwing materials at the work, gouging the surface with tools, jumping to reach the top edges, or throwing water on top of the painting are all examples of that. I transcend stigmatic social labels of gender norms by hiding and subverting the performance of my actions through layers of work and process, mirroring and recording how I felt in the execution of creation. While working in my studio and critically engaging with the fragility of my process, I am also constrained by my formalist teachings. There is a balance between merging this formal training while engaging in self-reverential work. The blending of these two elements allude to a closer look at myself and how I choose to present myself within the context of a heteronormative society. Subverting gender performativity through nonrepresentational art making while engaging in the process of highlighting my gender identity allows for a performative, fluid process in which I place myself in the world.


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