Identity as a Conceptual Framework

We are all born with a race and with an ethnic background in which we grown up. It is this cultural and ethnic background that shapes us an in individual, and helps each person establish their own identity. One is not born with an identity but through life experiences and defining moments in ones life an identity will and can be developed. An Identity can be altered and or changed many times throughout ones life. There are a plethora of identities that one can adopt and also many more to be invented. In the 50’s and 60’s who would have thought there would be emo kids roaming the streets. This is an identity that was invented just as all other identities have been. One strives to define themselves as unique or different with an identity, but also as part of a group. In my first self portrait I took on the identity of a nerd by wearing thick black rim glasses, pig tails, a crazy sweater and socks with my shoes. This would be how I perceive and identify a nerd. When I see a nerd I automatically think smart and technical.

Nerd 3

nerd_sitNikki S. Lee adopts identities of those around her to see what it is like to take on another persona. In the Tourist project Nikki becomes a tourist and uses her race as a tool. When one looks at her in the images one would find it hard to know she is from America. When Nikki Lee becomes a yuppie she is being seen by others as one that has money and is an important business woman. The identities that we take on define us in both good and bad ways. In my second image I took on the identity of a thug that has a tough image.

thug 1I believe the culture and society in which one grow up in strongly influences the identity that one adopts. It is basic human nature that we as humans feel comfortable becoming what we know. Those who grow up in big cities with lots of crime and gangs will most likely become part that crowd as a youth or adult.

MilitaryIn the final self portrait image I took on the identity of a soldier. This is a respectable image and identity that many people look up to. There are good and bad identities that one can adopt in a lifetime, and a soldier strong, tough, masculine and fearless. People believe that if they take on the personality of others it will make them popular or important. Many people adopt personalities that are different than their own for the attention. It is important for one to be themselves and know that inventing or keeping your own identity and personality is what is attractive to others.

Fame as a Conceptual Framework

Fame is something that is held in high importance in society today. Many people idolize celebrities and stalk their every move. When one looks at a fame in relation to a celebrity one might be longing to have a similar life. One looks at the glamorous life of the rich and famous as the quintessential life well lived. The World Dictionary defines fame as “the state of being widely known or recognized; renown; celebrity”. There are many different types of fame such as those who are famous due to money, talent, recognition and as a result of family status. The more one sees a celebrity the more famous they become. It seems as though images strongly influence fame due to the repetition of specific images and people. For example, one can recall the popularity of Marilyn Monroe and how her image become worshiped and collected. When Andy Warhol began reproducing Marilyn Monroe’s image through art he placed her on a pedestal and made her celebrity status go on after death.

Marilyn Monroe

Marilyn Monroe by Andy Warhol

Society as a whole is obsessed with fame and celebrities in respect to immortality and an icon. One considers celebrities as different from normal human beings, such as being “metaphorically immortal”. When one becomes famous they are seen as immortal and better than all other individuals. Society seems to gloss over the imperfections of celebrities and only see them as perfect. Teenagers are always watching celebrities on television and idolizing their lives. When teenagers watch MTV and become obsessed with celebrities they also feel the need to become the celebrity. Teenagers are acting and dressing like Paris Hilton, Lindsey Lohan, and reality television stars. The issue is that a lot of celebrities these days are not as classy or a good role model for teenagers and or society in general.

Paris Hilton

In the realm of fame and fortune society is the main instigator when it comes to immortalizing celebrities. A celebrity can literally die, but in their death comes continuous fame. Michael Jackson became even more famous after his death and continues to live on through art and reproductions of his image. Fame can allow celebrities to live on after death and become immortal through images. Even though celebrities die they will never truly go away because of the history of images that document their lives.

Religion as a Conceptual Framework

The first image I chose to present a positive social image is one of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. This is an image that many people will recognize if they have grown up in the church. My description focuses on Mary Magdalene and her religions presence. In the Christian faith many believers pray to the virgin Mary because she is the quintessential woman of repentance and humility. One prayer to Mary is:

Mary, woman of many sins, who by conversion became the beloved of Jesus, thank you for your witness that Jesus forgives through the miracle of love.

You, who already possess eternal happiness in His glorious presence, please intercede for me, so that some day I may share in the same everlasting joy. Amen.

She was an important disciple of Jesus and was the last disciple present at his crucifixion. Mary is an image that affirms religion as a positive social convention.

The second image is one that critiques religion. When I think of religion the first thing that comes to mind is a cross. Some groups of people believe that any display of religion in a professional or social situation is inappropriate. For example, in two articles I read, images of religion were said to be offensive and or inappropriate in certain situations. A photo taken at a college football game displayed college students in body paint with crosses painted above their hearts. When the photo was used by the school the crosses were taken out with Photoshop. This caused a national controversy and the students expressed that they were extremely offended. Another article discussed the controversy about wearing a cross around one’s neck while at work. Why is it that one has freedom of religion but is not able to express that religion in a visual manner? Both of these articles cause controversy over a religious symbol. My image displays a cross that is personal to me. I use to wear this cross around my neck, under my shirt. I wonder what someone would have said to me if I had worn the cross for others to view. This cross is photographed in a monotone image to show the drastic contrast, black and white, between religion for believers and non-believers.


For the final image I photographed a fireplace with a beautiful glowing fire. This image reminds me of a simple time in life when I was young. When I look at the photo it brings back memories of Christmas and the midnight service at church. The warmth of the fire is relaxing and also a neutral image that anyone can relate to. One can look at this image and make their own personal critique of the image. To me this is a spiritual image that the viewer can place themselves into and take away their own spiritual views. Fire relates to the candles that are lit during Mass or a Church services. Fires can also be related to the spiritual life as a metaphor for the growth of spirituality with in a person. As ones spirituality grows one may have trouble keeping the fire going. It takes a lot to gain spirituality in life and it may also take a few tries before one can find their “spiritual quest” in life.





Race as a Conceptual Framework

Kehinde Wiley and Kara Walker show a change in the notion of “power” from the historical perspective through their art. Each artist uses art in a unique way to express their thoughts on how power has changed throughout history. Wiley uses portraits as a way to show power in relation to race. Portraiture in the fifteenth century was used to portray the individual in the portrait as a powerful, important and wealthy person in society. In Wiley’s oil painting Passing/Posing, (Assumption) uses an ordinary male wearing modern street clothes who is placed into an ornate fifteenth century like painting.


This is Wiley’s way of bringing these men, off the street, into a position of power. In the fifteenth century, white individuals were painted in portraits to show their positions of power, and in modern day Wiley is recreating these images with Black males. When we see someone walking down the street it is in our nature to judge them by their appearance. Just as people in the fifteenth century judged those in extravagant clothing as important and those wearing ordinary clothes as unimportant. Today, people instantly have an opinion about someone according to their appearance and that opinion expresses the individuals supposed importance. Wiley uses everyday people that, on the street, may look like thugs but in reality that is not always the truth. There are all kinds of stereotypes that are placed on people which is one reason that Wiley is portraying ordinary black males as important and powerful instead of thugs.
Kara Walker takes images from history about the slave trade and brings them to the public. Her work is historical and tells true stories about the horrific past that blacks have been endured. The silhouette images allow the viewer use their imagination and fill in the blank that tells the disturbing and factual story of slavery in the antebellum period. Walkers work portrays white’s showing power over black’s and and the gruesome scenes that unfold throughout history.


White people that were powerful in this time period hateful towards blacks and Walkers image Hunting Scene shows Black people and White people burning the heads of the opposite race.  It is a highly dramatic scene that is intensified by the silhouetted images. Kara Walker’s art is suppose to catch the attention of the viewer by disturbing and offending them. The images are part of a tragic history that was full of racism
and hate.


Readymade Aided Art

Marcel Duchamp was a creative artist who developed the art of “Readymades” and “Assisted Readymades”. Readymades are works of art that Duchamp created by taking pre-made made objects and adding a title or description to the object as art. He was moving away from the traditional sense of handmade art and focusing on ideas and how the viewer will eventually be able to create a finished meaning of his Readymade. The objects that Duchamp chose were ordinary everyday objects that he posed or combined together in order to create a new work of art. The resulting image was made to be open to the viewer interpretation, and Duchamp made these pieces so the viewer could be involved. Duchamp’s piece, With Hidden Noise, is a perfect example of how he created art that in turn allows his viewer to become a part of the finished product. In the piece, With Hidden Noise, Duchamp calls upon his friend to add a mysterious object to the piece and not tell him what it is. This allows Duchamp to be detached from the finished work of art and become a spectator just like his viewers. He is able to sit back and wonder what is in the piece and the story behind it.

A readymade aided work of art can be any objects one chooses to combine together to create a new image. The readymade I chose was flowers, a coffee mug and a stone. This collection of objects means something to me as an individual and an artist. Throughout everyday life there are roadblocks and stresses that can become a challenge. These objects represent my way of taking a break and escaping to a relaxing state of mind. The title “In the chaos of life” gives the viewer an opening to finish the piece with whatever thoughts they have. The stone is representational of a zen state of mind that can calm me down. At the beginning of a day or at the end I enjoy relaxing with a cup of coffee and the flowers within the cup show that one should stop and smell the roses. When life becomes chaotic it is worth it to take a breather and stop and smell the roses or enjoy life as it has been given to you. This is my take on a readymade aided work of art and I hope you enjoy it and can become one with the image.


Hello, my name is Caroline Bivona and I am majoring in Visual Communications at Holy Cross College. Art has always been a part of my life and I am intrigued by the stories that are told by artists through their artistic images. My background is in Graphic Design and I graduated from Ivy Tech Community College with an Associates of Applied Science in Visual Communications. Professionally I have held a job as a desktop publisher for The UPS Store and completed many freelance projects on my own. The last freelance job I completed was designing digital pages for a wedding album.

Visual Literacy is the understanding of visual images and the meaning behind each image. In an art museum there are many different images and each one tells a story. Visual Literacy is what a viewer takes away from an artistic image and their understanding to what the image is trying to portray. This course interests me because it will help me look at visual images in a new way. Visual Literacy will allow me to pick apart and understand the meaning behind artistic images. Throughout my college education I have interpreted visual culture mostly through designs, advertisements, and websites. Since my background in art is mostly digital I believe that this class will help open my eyes to more types of art.

This is the first time I have ever put my personal thoughts about art on the internet for the world to see. I am a little nervous about other people viewing my blog and about what those individuals might think about my blog posts that I post. Blogging is a way for me to type out my thoughts and ideas about art and how it inspires me to become a better artist. During this class I am open to learning new things and hopefully applying them to my designs and ideas as an artist.