Throughout the Constellation lectures over the three years we have continuously questioned facts about everyday life, and how we perceive artworks as well as artists. In the first two years I found that the lectures that I enjoyed and found the most interesting were about feminism and women’s rights. This was particularly relevant in Second year where I participated in the “Puzzling Out Contemporary Art” lectures by Jon Clarkson. Throughout these lectures we looked in to what makes a work of art contemporary, whether something can be too old to be contemporary, as well as looking in to modernism and feminism. I wanted to point out these lecture topics as I found these the most interesting and helpful to my own artwork and writing. The post-feminism lectures particularly inspired me, as it helped me decide on what to write my dissertation about with the topic being “Sexuality and Gender in Contemporary Artwork” and the question being, “How have female contemporary artists critiqued notions of gender and sexuality in their work?”.
Throughout these lectures we questioned many factors of post-feminist artwork and how it influenced culture of the time, as well as now. In this research we looked at the three misconceptions about feminism as well as the three moments of feminism. I found these lectures interesting because there were so many different ideologies behind feminism; and artists created such different styles of artworks from one another. I also found it extremely interesting how different women view feminist artwork and how they sometimes have rivalries in their own movement on how to portray feminism. Throughout my own research on this topic I have learnt that even nowadays there are still artworks of the norms of womanhood that are still subjected to ridicule, making me feel that my dissertation was important as the problems that female artists have encountered previously have not gone away- and we need to be constantly aware of this and fighting against it.
The Constellation lectures have helped me develop a deeper understanding of many topics, and I feel that I have broadened my artistic knowledge greatly over these three years. I also found that Constellation gave me ideas for my Subject work; where I discovered artists that I hadn’t thought of before which inspired my own work. My practical work at the moment is based on sexuality in artwork, as well as the idea of what is considered to be beautiful and why. Artwork has always been a major tool used in order to influence the publics opinions on many topics; especially to fight for the rights of particular movements. Sexuality in artwork has been a major theme for the feminist movement, giving artists a new way to express themselves and fight for their beliefs.
The set essays throughout the Constellation course has also helped me with my writing and ability to write good quality essays that are descriptive, informative and relevant. These 3,000-4,000 word essays were particularly helpful, as they prepared me for the dissertation. Especially with the referencing, as before University we used a different method of referencing so it was all new to me. Although the lectures prepared me for my dissertation, I still found it difficult to reach the 10,000 word mark, as I have never wrote so much before. However the tutorials with Jon throughout the year helped a lot, as touching base with my tutor gave me a sense of direction and stopped me from getting too lost in the essay. This was particularly important to me as I have previously had the tendency to ramble in my essays, and these tutorials helped me be clear and concise in my writing.
One thing that I found most difficult when writing my dissertation was that I chose a very broad question to write about, therefore it was hard to figure out what research was relevant enough to be written about in my essay. As well as which artists I chose to write about throughout my dissertation, as my dissertation proposal had too much information about too many different artists. Therefore I tried my hardest in this final dissertation to only pick a select few artists that I felt worked best in my work. This helped me in all senses, as after having to be so choosy with what artists I could write about I am more particular in my subject work, I have learnt how to properly research artists and pick out the most relevant to my own work; compared to First year where my artist research was all over the place and there was no link throughout anyone that I looked in to.
Something that particularly helped me with my dissertation writing was the Field workshop for ‘Art and the Conscious mind’ where we meditated. By using the meditation technique, of which I have never done before the workshop, I have been able to relax and take my mind off the stresses of deadlines and work which ultimately have helped me be more creative in my own practice as well as making my writing of a better standard. Meditating before the day ahead has helped me to have some peace and tranquility before I start doing any writing, which therefore gives me a clear head and improves my writing as there is nothing worse than writing an essay when you are stressed and tired.
Therefore, the constellation lectures have thoroughly helped me within my own practice as well as with my dissertation; giving me ideas and inspiration for my topic as well as my writing. The thorough analysis of artworks and artists has helped me gain a deeper knowledge for my essay, and has helped me to research on my own and understand artwork by myself. The tutorials throughout the years has helped me be clear and concise with my thoughts, especially throughout the writing of the dissertation, and I feel that I have improved on being more precise with what I am trying to say. This dissertation has taught me a lot, and has had many challenges along the way, but I now feel a lot more confident in myself and what I am capable of.