BCA Art Gallery

Elise Siegel

I began developing a body of work derived from feminine articles of clothing in the context of a heightened awareness, and discussion in the art world, of the self as social construct. As well as giving my work more specific emotional content, the use of clothing as imagery became a way for me to address the politics and psychology of identity. It was a move toward the personal as well as the political.

I began this series of Portraits in the spring of 1992, when the potential consequences of breast implant surgery first made front-page headlines and the evening news. It made me think about how our cultural fixation with physical appearance has grown more perverse and, in some cases, tragic. Certain parts of a woman's body, such as the breasts, have been fetishized, standing in for the complete woman, becoming her total identity. With the burgeoning of the cosmetic surgery industry, we no longer rely on foundation garments to change the way we look, but feel the need to surgically alter our physical selves. The line between clothing and actual body and skin has become blurred.

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© 1992, Elise Siegel
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© 1992, Elise Siegel
Portrait #3 Portrait #4

Click on the thumbnails to view the works, or follow the arrow below

Elise Siegel received her education at The University of Chicago, Vancouver School of Art in British Columbia and the Emily Carr College of Art in Vancouver, British Columbia. Her work has been included in selected exhibitions both group and solo throughout the United States. She has received several awards including the New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship, MacDowell Art Colony Fellowship, the Yaddo Art Colony Fellowship, the Canada Council Art Bank Purchase and the Canada Council Grant. Her work has been reviewed in Art News and Art Journal as well as other notable publications.


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