“Often I feel like so much emphasis is put on how beautiful you are, and how thin you are, and not a lot of emphasis is put on what you can do and how smart you are. I’d like to change that, change the emphasis of what’s important when looking at a woman.”
My project “A Comfortable Skin” deals with society's obsession with physical appearance. My aim is to facilitate a dialogue about the way young girls, from a very early age, are taught to believe that being pretty/beautiful/thin trumps intelligence, wit and personality. The way I use paint is intentional: the various layers function as metaphorical skin to emphasize just how much we hide behind a shield of manufactured beauty to protect our true selves from society’s scrutinizing eye.
Los Angeles is often the hub of this obsession, typified by stars and models with eating disorders, plastic surgeons on every corner and advertisements defining the paragon of beauty. My work deals with the process of becoming self-aware while living in this media-saturated, technologically advancing society. It is symbolic of the personal anxiety and loss of identity occurring in a world where visually aggressive advertisements dictate who you are supposed to be. In this environment I find it difficult to be comfortable in my own skin. My sense of self has become dislodged and torn apart.
Using installation, text, photography, mixed media, video and performance, I explore notions of online identity. I specifically look at the construction of avatars, the community they inhabit and blurring the lines between digital media and the physical world to look at culture in a new way. How do avatars question and expose commonly held assumptions about stereotypes, judgment, self-awareness and those marginalized by race, gender, sexual preference and physical appearance? How do these digital bodies we inhabit open up new worlds, new politics, new communities and new realities?
Through my work I zoom in on the complex social and cultural conventions that determine our identity. The avatar becomes a vehicle for personal and public reflection.
KRISTINE SCHOMAKER is a new media and performance artist, painter and art historian living and working at the Brewery artist complex in Los Angeles California. She received her BA in Art History and her MA in Studio Art from California State University at Northridge. Kristine works with various interdisciplinary art forms including online virtual worlds to explore notions of online identity and the hybridization of digital media with the physical world.
She has an active life in the arts, previously teaching art history at Antelope Valley College and Pasadena City College, forming an artist collective in Los Angeles and organizing and curating numerous art exhibitions. Most recently, she founded Shoebox PR to help visual artists create a presence in the art world. Sitting on two non-profit art boards, Kristine believes in supporting artists by building a community of like-minded people who have a plan, can share resources and bring an idea to fruition. She is currently the President of the Brewery Artwalk Association and is the social media coordinator for the Southern California Women’s Caucus of Art.