If “beauty lies in the eye of the beholder” then beauty itself is created through the act of looking. Is something beautiful if it was never seen? What happens when beauty looks back?
My practice explores the desire to and fear of being looked at, and the ways in which representations of women’s bodies solidify this act of looking into a material reality. People that are socialized as women are given these images, and they are how we create our identities.
In her infamous quote, Simone de Beauvoir said, “One is not born, but becomes, a woman.” Gender does not exist outside social experience. It is created in the eyes of others. And what is a woman, but a beautiful object, created in the eyes of a man?
In painting, film, photography, and all forms of representation, the custom is for men to be the maker, and women the subject. In these images, women have no control over the way they are seen, nor do they have a way to look back. With my work, I seek to address this inequality, and come to terms with the way my own identity has been formed by these images.
I will never know who I would be, or how I would think, without the effects of gendered looking. But through making, I can address the ways in which I have ‘become.’
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Hannah Cofer is a fiber artist with a practice in weaving and stitch, currently based in Chicago, IL. Her tapestry practice is concerned with the history of the representation of women in western painting, and its relationship to the feminist theory of the gaze. Her weavings reimagine images of women in her life, combining these figures with fantastical elements in heavily textured surfaces. These tapestries are both intensely detailed and monumental in size, bringing life to otherwise mundane compositions of everyday experiences. She graduated with a BFA in Studio from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago in May, 2021.
© Hannah Cofer