Saturday, January 22, 2011

Real Beauty

Claudia DeMonte's Real Beauty, currently on exhibit at Webster University's Cecille R. Hunt Gallery, explores global ideas of beauty by incorporating handmade dolls from around the world in a large scale installation. These dolls "speak to women’s lives and their connections to each other" and offer a glimpse into the maker's "perception of the female’s place in society... revealing much about herself in the context of her larger culture."

It is refreshing to see so many perspectives on beauty. Too often it seems that we are faced with very limited notions that demonstrate cultural biases based on age, economic & social standing, ethnicity, race, sexuality, and more. Throughout history, idealized notions of beauty have included "the use of corsets, binding of feet, piercings, plastic surgery... application of chemicals to face and hair." Even today, several industries exist essentially to profit from our insecurities about ourselves by promising that their products, procedures and advice can increase attractiveness.

Like many women, I have struggled personally with my physical appearance and could name a host of things I would change about myself if I could just wave a magic wand and do so. These struggles and those of others I have known have even informed numerous artworks, especially when coupled with my strong desire to overcome judgment and confront stereotypical assumptions. I am very glad that I attended the reception for this exhibition; seeing so many interpretations of beauty from around the world encouraged me to me reevaluate what is truly important and what is genuinely beautiful. Real beauty isn't found just on the surface, it also comes from within, we just need to open our eyes to more possibilities.

Claudia DeMonte
Real Beauty
Cecille R. Hunt Gallery
Webster University - Visual Arts Studios
8342 Big Bend Blvd.
St. Louis, MO 63119
Jan. 21 - Feb. 19, 2011

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