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The Artist and Her Muse: a Romantic Tragedy about a Mediocre and Narcissistic Painter Named Rachel Hoffman By Rachel Hoffman A non-thesis project submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Fine Arts School of Art and Art History College of Visual and Performing Arts University of South Florida Major Professor: Thomas McLaughlin, M.F.A Victoria Hirt, M.F.A. Louis Marcus, M.F.A. Date of Approval April 9, 2004 Keywords: narcissism, self-portrait, se lf-loathing, masturbation, Rachel Hoffman, painting, yeti, cadmium yellow, self-flage llation, Allen McCollum, Leopold von SacherMasoch, kitsch, puke, earwax, Venus, chocolate turds Copyright 2004, Rachel Hoffman
Imagine a theater. Build one in your mind. I do not care if it is the la rgest theater in the universe or if it is the size of a shoebox. The theater can be an elaborate construction with gilded cherubs and pricel ess jewels. If you would prefer the theater to be a minimal design, imagine it that way. Maybe the theater is made out of glass or crystal. You can be all alone in the theater or maybe you are seated next to an alien, a cave man, or a robot. As the curtain rises an enormous pipe organ is spewing out J.S. Bachs Toccata and Fugue in D minor The sound is colossal. The stage is designed to look like a filthy and bleak art studio. Sculptures that look like decaying flesh hang from the ceiling. Papers and dirty painting rags are scattered all ove r the floor. A roach crawls towards some moldy food in the wastebasket. A piece of beef jerky sits next to a p ile of paint tubes and paintbrushes. Canvases are stacked against the wall. Dried paint is splattered everywhere. A woman enters stage left. As she begins to speak, the music fades My most recent paintings are meant to serve as gateways between daily life and an exotic utopian fantasy. These strange psychological spaces function as portals into a new frontier inhabited with the most stupendous creatures. Active volcanoes, carnivorous plants, terrible lizards, pink Chihuahuas, flesh-eating insects, uni dentified flying objects, and a host of other amazing things coexist in this cruel tropical paradise. Everything I do is a self-portrait and a disguise. I imagine the characters in my paintings to be mutant clones. The act of painting is like looking in the mirror. I like to spend most of my time doing one or the other. I am driven by an insa tiable urge to see what I truly look like. I suffer from an unfulfilled desire to meet myself. I am frustrated with impressions and reflections. These confessions reveal my work as possibly the most disgusting display of narcissism in the entire history of art. The act of painting is an absurd and self-indulgent enterprise. I paint with the ridiculous and frivolous purpose of delighting the eye. Neverthele ss, my hope is that my paintings capture an important aspect of my utopian fantasy with their sumptuous surroundings embellished with rainbows, natural disasters, butterflies, exotic grasses and bizarre costumes. My paintings can be read on many different levels from surface to deep allegory. The finished product is the result of hours upon hours of pain ting, pondering, and dreaming. Below the surface lies a nauseating abyss. My work is a delicious feast for the aesthetic consumer. I am a villainous mad scientist with a hunger for immortality. My eyes are gluttonous fools. I am a mystery and a deception. Vermillion is my opulent fetish. Lemon yellow is my nemesis. The music grows louder again. The woman begins to cackle. She then takes a deep breath and a deeper and more dramatic bow. She exits stage right--you find that you want to applaud--but unfortunately, this story is not over. I suggest that you get yourself a snack like some popcorn, chocolate, or gummy bears before reading any further. The curtain slowly and elegantly comes down.
Act I: The Studio Visit or The Visiting Artist
I would like you to remind yourself that this story is an imag inary tale and the characters in this story are fictional. When I use the wo rd fictional, I mean totally contrived. The conversations that take place in this story NEVER HAPPENED and probably NEVER WILL HAPPEN. It is only a coincidence if you happen to recognize any of the names that I have given the character s because this story takes plac e in a far away and imaginary parallel universe. This is not a true story. The characters in this story are not very likeable. It is for this reason I hope that you would not confuse anything or anybody in this story with anything real. It is pure happenstance that the main character in this story is named Rachel Hoffman. Nothing in this story is based on anything factual. Now try to get comfortablebut not too comfortablebecause I do not want you to fall asleep. You may find that you would like to reconsider this imaginary theater that you have built in your mind. Maybe you are tired of the old one. Maybe you would like to erect a bigger and better one in its place. It will not cost you a thing to destroy your old theater. You will not have to hire any architects or look at any blueprints. Another good thing is that you will not have to hire any contractors either. That means that you would not have to worry about any of those architects or contractors making a mistake and ruining the whole thing. When architects and contractor s make mistakes, they usually blame each other. That can be a real mess because when architects and contractors blame each other, everybody involved has to hire an attorney. Luckily, you can enjoy a brand new theater without the help of any architec ts, contractors, or attorneys. Anyway, imagine that old theat er exploding into a magnificent ball of fire. Or, if you prefer, make that old theater melt like chocolate ice cream. Now build yourself a new one. I do not care what it is like as long as it is more amazing than the last one. If you would like, this theater can be made of solid gold. If solid gold is too garish for you, you can make it out of ice crystals. If you hate th e cold, and want to feel relaxed and casual, make it out of denim and corduroy. These are all just suggestions. I am sure that you can come up with something better. Anyway, just imagine a theater. You realize that the curtain in the new theater is made out of lots and lots of long, messy brown hair. Some of this hair is in knots. Some clumps and strands are stuck together with paint. You begin to rec ognize that hair. You know it as the very same hair that was growing on the head of the woman that was cackling on the stage in the old theater. As the curtain rises, you hear a violin playi ng a very sad song. Imagine the saddest song you have ever heard. Suddenly you feel overwhelmed by the scent of painting varnish. You realize that you are looking into the depressing studioth e very same studio as in the old theateryou know, the one you tore down. Florescent lights come on and suddenly you are feeling uneasy. The studio ha s changed a bit. It is thoroughly polluted with foul yet mediocre art. There is a plas tic sandwich bag filled with dead rats on a table next to some sculptures. These things probably seem strange to you, but what is even stranger is that this time the floor ti lts downward. This causes it to look like many floors that have been represented in German Expressionist paintings. Tilting the floor is
a device that German Expressionists sometimes used to make the spectator feel uneasy or nervous or restless. This time I am telling you to imagine a tilted fl oor so that you feel apprehensive. This apprehensiveness is onl y a vicarious apprehensiveness. You feel apprehensive for the charact ers that you will be meeting. The paintings in the studio have been s huffled around. Some new ones have been painted. You notice that a painting is be ing painted right now. The person doing the painting is a woman with very long and messy brown hair. Her hair is so very long and so very messy that you cannot see her face very well. It is almost as if she is hiding. Suddenly, you find that you can read the womans mind. This is not a stretch because this whole story is taking place in your head. As you have suddenly become clairvoyant, you realize that the woman is expecting somebody to visit. Just then, you hear a knock at the door. The woman flings it open. A man is behind the door. The man smiles. Standing very straight, the man introduces hi mself, Hello, my name is Allan McCollum and I am a visiting artist. Then the woma n replies, Hello, I was expecting you. My name is Rachel Hoffman and I am a graduate student. You realize that the man and the woman are horrid at acting. Allanlet us call the man Allanasks Rachel if he may take a photogra ph of herlet us call the woman Rachel. Rachel agrees to let Allan take her photograph even though she would rather not pose for a photo because she knows that her hair is me ssy. Plus, she has had very little sleep. Some food also may be caught in her teeth. A dditionally, she feels a b it goofy in front of a camera under fluorescent lights. Rachel finds a place to rest her paintbrush, wh ich is still loaded with a shade of green paint that comes from mixing oxide of chromium with lemon yellow. She then goes in front of the painting that she was working on when the curtain was lifting. This painting is a self-portrait. To be more specific, this is a painting of Rachel s head on the body of a two-foot version of Van Eycks Eve from the Ghent Altarpiece Rachel is self-conscious of this painting, and it shows. She is very embarrassed because the painting is remarkably absurd. Allan is not exactly sure how his new camera works. After some fumbling, he takes Rachels photograph. He catches her with a foolish smile on her face. You find yourself wondering what the photograph will look like when it is printed. Unfortunately, you will never know because this story is fantasy a nd the people on the stage are just imaginary actors. Plus, that was not a real camera. It was just an imaginary stage prop. Additionally, there was no film However, you know that somewhere in the world of ideas, there is an imaginary photo of Rachel Hoffman looking like an imbecile in front of a really moronic painting, which happens to be a self-portrait. That photo is floating around somewhere. If you ever find yourself in a bad mood, think of that dumb image and you might fell like giggling a bit. Anyway, back to the story. Rachel begins to show Allan her paintings. He recognizes that they all seem to be paintings of a girl about the same height as Rachel with long, messy brown hair. He wonders if the hair would look like Rachels own hair if Rachel
were a better painter. Unfortunately, this is not a story about a better painter. This is a story about Rachel. If you w ould like to read about a better painter, there are many great books that I could recommend. My fa vorite is A Picture of Dorian Grey by Oscar Wilde. However, if you like stories about not-so-good painters, this is the right story for you. Anyway, Allan is too polite to point out Rachels problems w ith rendering paint. This works out great because Rachel is alrea dy aware of the rendering problems and would rather not discuss them because she is so frustrated. As Allan is such a polite man, he decides to skip over the rendering problems. In stead, he decides to ask Rachel to explain what her paintings are about. Rachel has been talking very fast. She is f eeling more self-conscious than ever. Allan is a famous artist. Lots of people in the ar t world have a Hollywood mentality. Rachel knows this. Rachel also knows th at tons of people have been sucking up to Allan all day. She also knows that plenty of other artists are being very nice to Allan even though they do not know him. Rachel thinks of the number of people sucking up to Allan as a sort of barometeryou know, to measure Allans suck-se ss. Rachel is thinking that Allan must be very suck-sessful. Those facts are co mpounded by the fact that nobody sucks up to Rachel. In fact, Rachel and her paintings ar e not too popular in the art worldor even in art school. Anyway, Rachel feels re ally tense around Allan. This is what Rachel tells Allan: I am pain ting my self-portrait ag ain and again because I am hoping to produce a perfect copy of myself so that I will finally see what I truly look like and I will finally meet myself and we (me and myself) can be united. I am working towards a Utopian extreme. As I ge t better at painting myselfmyself will get better and betterI will grow smarter and more beautiful. I am also interested in the evolution that takes place. I like watchi ng me and myself mutate. I am becoming a mutant. As she finishes speaking, she realizes how dumb she soundsand then you realize how silly she feels. This is what Allan asks Rachel: Have you seen that movie with David Ducovney called Evolution ? Rachel says no. Allan tells her that she should see it. Allan asks Rachel why she paints. Rachel answers with some nonsensical reason. Allan says, It is interesting that you seem to keep trying to pain t a beautiful woman, but in the end you cannot seem to stop yourself from doi ng something to ruin herand to make heruhwell Rachel finishes his sentence, ugly? Yes, ugly. responds Allan. As Allan is so considerate, he has a real problem using the word ugly. Rachel, on the other hand, does not ha ve a problem with this word. In fact in a moment of swollen hubris, she answers proudly, I paint ugly because beauty fades. Ugly lasts FOREVER!
The curtain that is made of lots and lots of long and messy brown hair grows back over the stage until your view beco mes completely obscured.
Act II: Venus in Fake Furs
Now that the curtain has closed, hopefully you have had a chance to digest what you have just read. Maybe you are feeling a bit restle ss and bored. After all, nothing all that interesting has happened in this story. Y ou might be thinking, why bother to make up a story without any sex or violen ce in it? After all, who wants to read about a mediocre painter and a suck-sessful ar tist having some boring and ab surd conversation in some filthy studio? Not you? Maybe your restlessness and boredom is turning to anger. If so, I have just the right solution. Imagine a horrible monster. Make it ugly a nd huge. Cover it with horrible, filthy, smelly, tangled hair. Imagine the monster s greasy, wrinkled face covered in drippy, sticky, goo. Imagine pimples and vomit. Let your anger feed this monster. Give it horrible teeth and disgusting breath. Imagine the scent of that breat h creeping into your theater. Imagine that the monster is coming for someone. Imagine a piercing scream. Imagine Rachel Hoffman and Allan McCollum be ing eaten alive by this foul creature. Imagine them being torn to shreds. I bet that feels gooduntil the m onster turns to come for you. The curtain opens and you are surprised to see yourself on the stage this time. The stage is set like a theater and there you are sleeping in your chair. You see yourself wake up from a horrible dream about a giant Yeti ea ting Rachel Hoffman and Allan McCollum. Luckily, you wake up before the mons ter has a chance to get to you. Now imagine looking at yourself on a stage qu ietly watching a play. The curtain comes up. You hear some psychedelic, Sitar mu sic from the 1960s. Once again you see the studio. You notice that things have degenerated even further. Rachel Hoffman is working on a painting. She seems to be in a tran ce. She is talking to herself. This will be called The Painter and Her Muse , she mumbles. She is painting another self-portrait. This time it is confusing. In the painting, R achel Hoffman is represented twice. On the right, Rachel Hoffman is depicted as a painter in the act of painting. On the left, Rachel Hoffman is depicted as the model in the act of posing. How dare you, screams a voice. Rachel is startled. She jumps. I thought I was alone, answers Rachel. That is because you are a fool, replies the voice. Who are you? asks Rachel. Rachels heart is racing. Her face blushes. The palms of her hands begin to sweat. She realizes that she is talking to a beautiful statue. She recognizes this statue. I dont believe it, Rachel says as she covers and uncovers her face, it cant be. Venus? It is Venus. Rachel is talking to a marble sculpture from Antiquity. The sparkling statue is standing in the middle of Rachels dirty studio. Glorious Venus eclipses all of the mediocre paintings. This probably seem s strange to you, but you notice something stranger and more disturbing. Venus is covering herself in fake furs.
How dare you! repeats Venus. What are you doing here? Why are you dressed that way? asks Rachel. I am here to punish you because you dressed me this way, booms Venus. Then Rachel asks, How did you get in here? Then Venus tells her, You know the answers to these questions. You brought me here. You, with your Leopold Von Sacher-Masoch. Then Venus spits on the floor. Leopold Von Sacher-Masoch? Rachel said, What does HE have to do with this? Rachel spits on the ground. Dont play stupid with me you fool. You only make me angr ier with your questions. Do I have to spell it out for you? Fine. Masoch conjured me from my Pagan setting. He dragged me from my Mediterranean utopia up to frigid Germany. He dressed me in furs because I was freezing in his Prot estant setting, explained Venus. Well then you just admitted it. I didnt dre ss you this way. Masoch did it. Punish him, Rachel pleads. He wishes. Anyway, he is dead now. I am immortal. Masoch did not dress me this way, you did. And these furs arent just any furs. These are fake furs. Youyoucheap CapitalistJewbringing me to your cheap, state-funded collegein your ugly, suburban, Capitalist environment. You have turned me to kitsch. You are a terrible artist. You suck! bellows Venus. This time Venus makes the room shake with her voice. Rachel is shaking. Youre wr ong. I dont suck, that is the problem. That is why I am so unsuck-sessful. Give it up. Who are you trying to convince? Me? Or you? How dare you dress me like this? I look like I belong outside of a trailer park, roars Venus. Oh Venus, dont be such an elitis t. I did this for you. I did this for beauty. I did it for love. I didnt want you to die. I couldnt let you. And besides, if I would have dressed you in fur, all of the vegetarians and animal rights activists on campus would hate us, admits Rachel. Real furs would never fly he re. And if I let you stay nude, the feminists would have my head. Feminists, HA! Venus spits again, Fuck that. Now you have really done it. You need to learn to keep your mouth shut. I am immortal you fool. I cannot die. Love? What do you know about love? And beauty? Me diocre painters know nothing of beauty. Besides, I heard what you said to Allan McCollum about beauty. Am I hearing you correctly? Did you say f uck feminism? Rachel asks, Venus, how could you? Fuck that, Venus repeats. I know what you were doing. You werent worried about me dying, you were worried about you. You fo olish woman, you were the one afraid to die. You wanted immortality. When I get through with you, you are going to wish you were dead, screams Venus. No. Please. Dont put a curse on me, begs Rachel. It is too late for you, I curse you, Venus replies. The curtain drops like a falling piano.
Act III: PoisonedIntoxicated
As the narrator of this story, I would like to apologize for some things that I have kind of been feeling guilty aboutI mean, I know that you probably dont want to be my psychologist and this is not supposed to be a confessionand I am not trying to be a Saintand I am not Catholicand although I re ally want to resist quoting Oscar Wilde in The Picture of Dorian Gray quoting him is just so irresistible for meYou see, there is this part in the story when the main character, Dorian, tells his friend, Lord Henry, Oh, I should fancy in remorse, in suffering, i nwell, the consciousness of degradation. And then Lord Henry shrugs his shoulder s and says to Dorian, My dear fellow, mediaeval art is charming, but mediaeval emoti ons are out of date. One can use them in fiction of course. But then, the only things th at one can use in fiction are the things that one has ceased to use in fact. Believe me, no civilized man ev er regrets a pleasure, and no uncivilized man ever knows what a pleasure is . Much like Lord He nry, I know that selfflagellation is probably not so charming or even remotely attractive but I just cant seem stop myself because for some odd reasonsel f-flagellation is a kind of pleasure for meso I am going to indulgeand I dont know if that makes me uncivilized or civilizedand I dont care. Like most people, I think that I am a little of both. As I am apologizing, imagine that I am also thra shing and beating myself and enjoying it tremendously For one thing, I am feeling remorse for being rather bossy. Sorry. I am starting to think that I have been ordering you ar ound too much. It is a nasty feeling. I hate to think that I have been controlling you and telling you what to imagine or how to dream. I detest the idea that I might be this ugly little fascist voice in your head. Sorry. For another thing, I have insulted your inte lligence. I mean, ev erybody knows that there is no such thing as a Yeti, an artist named Alan McCollum, or talking marble statues. It is foolish to write about these things and it is a waste of time to read about them. You might be thinking to yourself, w hat is the point of all this nonsense? What do I have to gain by reading about a mediocre and self-centered painter? What do I care about Rachel Hoffman? So what if she loathes herself? So what if she loves herself? Unfortunately, there are no good answers to thes e questions. There is no point to this nonsense. You have nothing to gain from reading this. You will be a bit older when you are finished. You will have wasted precious moments of your ve ry short life. All that I can tell you is what I know for certain. All I know for certain is that one day you will die. I hate to tell you thatbut it is true. One day you will die. Sadly, like this story, your life will end and it probably will not make any sense either. Sorry. Maybe you are thinking that if you knew more about me, this story might be less absurd. After all, I have written a lo t about this mysterious Rachel Hoffman, but what about me? Well, I will tell you a little about me. Aside from occasional guilty feelings, my life is more or less idyllic. Much like the main charact er in this story, I am a painter. I love to paint and I love to look at paintings. I fetis hize everything associated with painting. For example, I am obsessessed with paint right out of the tube. I cannot seem to keep my fingers out of it. I do not feel alive w ithout this substance and other slimy gooey substances that resemble paint are incredib ly attractive to me. I adore snot, gravy, chewed-up bubble gum, chocolate sauce, earw ax, and smelly cheese. But unlike the
painter in my story, I am not mediocre. I am a brilliant painter. My talent amazes most people. It is because of this that, in most art circles, I have been elevated to goddess status. All over the world, people worship me love me, and adore me. I am constantly being showered with gifts and compliments. I ha ve even had a couple of stalkers. I have a nearly unblemished life because not only am I talented and suck-sessful, but I am also extremely attractive and fabulously wealthy. Every morning, I wake up in my opulent princess bed. Then, after a lazy yawn and stretch, I walk over to look in the mirror to spend a few moments admiring my flawless b eauty before taking a little time to groom myself and enhance this unrival ed loveliness even further. I spend the rest of the day creating paintings of indescribable magnificen ce and sophistication in my enormous and well-lit studio, or sitting under an oak tree feeding or singing to the squirrels and bluebirds. Butterflies follow me everywhere I go. I am happy to tell you that my life is almost like the happy ending in a fairyt ale. It is approximately perfect. After learning this, you may be wondering w hy I have a compulsion to write a story about such a pathetically flawed and medi ocre artist. Understandably, you may be curious as to why I would want to describe su ch a wretched studio filled with such vile degenerates. You may feel the need to know what I am trying to communicate with my work and this story. Unfortunately, it is not in my best interest to an swer those questions. My artistic obligations are to serve only myse lf. I do it because I have urges that need to be satisfied. It feels good to do it. Adm ittedly, my artistic endeavors are not much different than masturbation While we are on the topic of masturbation, it is time to bring you to the climax, and conclusion, of this story. Now that I have a pologized and explained a little about myself, I will not order you to imagine that you are in a theater. However, I will humbly and politely suggest that you do so. I ask you to do it as a gift to yourself. This is something specialonly you can see your theater because it is inside your head. It is a unique treasure. It is your wondrous secret. Even I, the narrator, cannot see it. Just as you cannot exactly see my theater. No matter how we ll I describe things, th ere will be details that you change. You will fill in the blanks in your own rare and extraordinary way. So go ahead, if you would like, imagine the theate r again. Imagine the chaotic hairy curtain rising Once again, the stage is set like a filthy st udio. The artwork has been rearranged again. The trashcan is filled with dirty painting rags and empty coffee cups. At first, it seems that the studio is empty. Everything is unc omfortably quiet. Upon further inspection, you realize that Rachel Hoffman is curled up in a dusty corner under a painting. Rachel is sleeping with a sticky paintbrush in her hand. A puddle of drool connects Rachels face to the grimy floor. She seems to be having a bad dream. Fuck thatnotoo lateI curse youno she mumbles. Rachel Hoffmans long hair is also sticking to the floor. It is di fficult to distinguish between paint and drool and snot. Rachel is not embarrassed because she is deeply engaged in a bad dream.
You probably have seen tons of paintings of women sleeping and reclining. If you go to a fancy museum like the Louvre or the Me tropolitan Museum of Art, you will see a whole butt-load of paintings of reclining women. I guess people must like to look at reclining and sleeping women. Otherwise, there would probably not be so many paintings of ladies in supine positions in fancy museums. Anyway, hopefully you like sleeping women. If you do, you can enjoy this momentbecause Rachel Hoffman is a woman and she is slumbering. She is much less threatening that way. You have all of the power in this situation. You can watc h her and she will not know. You could spit spitballs in her hair and she will not notice. You could tape signs like kick me to her back and she will not know who did it. Rachel is vulnerable. You most likely like her better this way. I like her better this way and I am not ashamed to admit it. Suddenly, you notice something strange happening. The painting on the wall behind Rachel Hoffman is being painted all by itself. A peculiar and eerie music is coming from the painting. If musical notes have a color, these mu sical notes sound like the color green. Rachel Hoffman begins to stir. She gets up and turns to the painting without bothering to wipe the drool from her mouth a nd face. The painting begins to look like a mirror reflection of Rachel. Rachel gets cl oser and closer to th e painting. She puts her hands on the panting. The reflection mimics he r in reverse. She tries to caress it. She reaches in to kiss it Then, suddenly the music stops. Rachel Hoffman shrieks! She has paint all over her face. It looks like olive and lime boogers and chocol ate turds. The illusion in the painting has been lost. It no longer looks like a mirror reflection. It just looks like an abstract expressionist piece of crap. The painting is ruined. Rachel runs to the sink in the corner and turns on scalding hot water. She scrubs her skin until it turns red and purple. Poisoned! she cries out desper ately, but nobody hears her except you. Poisoned! she repeats. Intoxicated she bellows. Sh e then pukes into the sink. As Rachel Hoffman is screaming and puking and freaking out, some hair grows over the stage obscuring your view of the mediocre painter and her below average studio, thus marking the cheap and unhappy end to another worthless and dismal scene. The curtain closes. Fin
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Hoffman, Rachel Gavronsky.
The artist and her muse
h [electronic resource] :
a romantic tragedy about a mediocre and narcissistic painter named Rachel Hoffman /
by Rachel Gavronsky Hoffman.
[Tampa, Fla.] :
University of South Florida,
Project (M.F.A.)--University of South Florida, 2004.
Text (Electronic thesis) in PDF format.
System requirements: World Wide Web browser and PDF reader.
Mode of access: World Wide Web.
Title from PDF of title page.
Document formatted into pages; contains 15 pages.
ABSTRACT: Imagine a theater. Build one in your mind. I do not care if it is the largest theater in the universe or if it is the size of a shoebox. The theater can be an elaborate construction with gilded cherubs and priceless jewels. If you would prefer the theater to be a minimal design, imagine it that way. Maybe the theater is made out of glass or crystal. You can be all alone in the theater or maybe you are seated next to an alien, a cave man, or a robot. As the curtain rises an enormous pipe organ is spewing out J.S. Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D minor. The sound is colossal. The stage is designed to look like a filthy and bleak art studio. Sculptures that look like decaying flesh hang from the ceiling. Papers and dirty painting rags are scattered all over the floor. A roach crawls towards some moldy food in the wastebasket. A piece of beef jerky sits next to a pile of paint tubes and paintbrushes. Canvases are stacked against the wall. Dried paint is splattered everywhere. A woman enters stage left. As she begins to speak, the music fades. "My most recent paintings are meant to serve as gateways between daily life and an exotic utopian fantasy. These strange psychological spaces function as portals into a new frontier inhabited with the most stupendous creatures. Active volcanoes, carnivorous plants, terrible lizards, pink Chihuahuas, flesh-eating insects, unidentified flying objects, and a host of other amazing things coexist in this cruel tropical paradise. "Everything I do is a self-portrait and a disguise. I imagine the characters in my paintings to be mutant clones. The act of painting is like looking in the mirror. I like to spend most of my time doing one or the other. I am driven by an insatiable urge to see what I truly look like. I suffer from an unfulfilled desire to meet myself. I am frustrated with impressions and reflections. These confessions reveal my work as possibly the most disgusting display of narcissism in the entire history of art. "The act of painting is an absurd and self-indulgent enterprise. I paint with the ridiculous and frivolous purpose of delighting the eye. Nevertheless, my hope is that my paintings capture an important aspect of my utopian fantasy with their sumptuous surroundings embellished with rainbows, natural disasters, butterflies, exotic grasses and bizarre costumes. "My paintings can be read on many different levels from surface to deep allegory. The finished product is the result of hours upon hours of painting, pondering, and dreaming. Below the surface lies a nauseating abyss. "My work is a delicious feast for the aesthetic consumer. I am a villainous mad scientist with a hunger for immortality. My eyes are gluttonous fools. I am a mystery and a deception. Vermillion is my opulent fetish. Lemon yellow is my nemesis." The music grows louder again. The woman begins to cackle. She then takes a deep breath and a deeper and more dramatic bow. She exits stage right--you find that you want to applaud--but unfortunately, this story is not over. I suggest that you get yourself a snack like some popcorn, chocolate, or gummy bears before reading any further. The curtain slowly and elegantly comes down.
Adviser: Thomas McLaughlin
Leopold von Sacher-Masoch.
t USF Electronic Theses and Dissertations.