Brianna Benefield, BA Senior Exhibition in Painting

False Identities

May 2 – May 13, 2014
Highsmith Art and Intercultural Gallery, 
Gallery Hours: Monday – Friday, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Opening Reception: Friday, May 2, 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. 
Free and Open to the Public

Several pieces of Brianna Benefield's BA Senior Exhibition portfolio, False Identities, are included in the BA Senior Salon Exhibition along with seven other candidates whose portfolios are the culmination of their work toward a bachelor of arts degree in art.

Brianna Benefield's Artist's Statement: "No matter who you are, everyone struggles at some point in their lives with figuring out their personal identity. With forever changing societal constructs of what is 'normal' the human mind is constantly being told what is acceptable by outside influences like family members, government, school, and capitalist advertisements. The television tells us we are unique individuals with unique minds and styles and in order to express your unique mind you must first buy 'unique' products and clothing but how are the clothes designed and fed to us by a designer somewhere, what make us unique and why do we care enough to spend our whole lives working in order to construct this false image of individuality.

My series will focus on the theory of complex embodiment, which according to Tracey Rizzo, the author of Body and Gender in the Age of Empire, 'conceptualizes the body as a blend of idealized social constructs and of actual corporeal factors. It seeks to understand the physical body as both what it actually is and how it is socially perceived.' Today, the media surrounds and bombards us with images of what we are expected to be every second of our modern lives. This effects our perceptions of uniqueness; we are fed an image, told it is unique, made to think it will make us happy, so we go out and buy it. My series questions how much of an individual are we really by focusing on 'Hipster' and otherwise 'cool' styles of the day. I use themes such as piercings, clothing choices, tattoos, and technology to discuss the figures direct relationship to the media through technology and its influences on the figures reflection of their own 'uniqueness.' I kill the figure in the painting because I find that when you are dead you are no longer able to show your true personality therefore, the uniqueness you have been striving for through mass produced clothing is finally the only thing the viewer sees. This, I hope, created an unsettling empty feeling in the viewer as they realize how useless their endeavor on obtaining mass produced items to explain their own façade of a personal identities to their peers. I believe that a new and original truth about the person comes out when they are no longer there to hide behind the self-image the media has created for them. When people are dead or maybe even sleeping they can no longer hide what they truly are: just a body affected by its environment."