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Writing on the body is also the theme of Lise Melhorn-Boe’s Body Map. The artist depicts herself covered in text describing her medical history. The notations are written on the part of her body where each incident occurred: she writes about her pregnancy on her abdomen, her mastectomy on the site where her right breast used to be and her quandaries regarding a thyroid medication on her neck. She also lays out the disturbing facts about chemical exposure and other environmental assaults that affect one’s health.

The viewer sees on Melhorn-Boe’s body the story of what she has endured. But rather than a flawed and damaged woman, we see a compellingly inscribed figure reminiscent of Indian and African ceremonial body decoration. By using her body as a “canvas” Melhorn-Boe takes control of her story and, as evidenced by her pose and expression, is empowered by it.

Professor Blondell takes on the thorny and yet nuanced matters of female beauty, sex and power as seen in the myth of Helen of Troy. Historically Western society has been so fascinated – obsessed even – by the pervasive influence of feminine beauty on all aspects of life that womanhood itself is too often narrowly defined by it. As these artists vividly demonstrate, the fascination continues unabated and still resonates as a commanding topic today.

Body Map
Lise Melhorn-Boe

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