Artsy Live: Artsy Goes to Paris

Artsy Editors
Dec 28, 2012 5:49AM

My sister, Liz, is a freshman at NYU. In Paris for the year as part of her Global Liberal Studies program, she recently received the following assignment from her Writing I professor:

"For this writing will choose an image (or two) of a human form...and, using one of the texts from the syllabus, you will examine how that body (or bodies) is being represented and what that representation reflects, challenges, assumes, refuses, etc."

The class had been reading texts on gender– do cultural norms define the way we interpret human bodies? What are the outcomes of such definition? Needless to say, finding images that could evoke an engaging thesis was challenging.

"Googling provided me with random pictures whose meaning I had to manipulate to fit into my thesis," she reflected. "I wanted to find images that were culturally relevant and that didn't come from a magazine shoot."

What is a college freshman to do? Answer: turn to Artsy.

"I felt that an art search engine must be more comprehensive than a generic image search, so I decided to give Artsy a try. I also figured there must be reason why Artsy works!"

While perusing Artsy's "Browse" page, Liz stumbled upon the Gender Politics gene. It was the perfect solution for her thesis dilemma; the page provided her with 800+ artworks as well as gave her the confidence that each work was relevant to her assignment.

"Artsy made finding images easy. I didn't have to pretend to understand a piece of art that I didn't know anything about." 

Liz ended up choosing the two above images above for her paper, discussing how they– along with Judith "Jack" Halberstam’s The Drag King Book– demonstrate the struggle experienced when choosing a gender outside the binary male-female model. She also shared her search experience with her professor and classmates who she claims are now "obsessed."

Why do I find this story important? My sister doesn't really like art. Through Artsy, however, she found two images that she reflected upon through the lens of Gender Politics– a subject she finds appealing but hadn't considered to be prevalent in art history. Artsy also gave her the capability not to "pretend;" the site immediately provided context for her two works via their listed genes. Lastly, Liz felt compelled to share her Artsy experience with her class, suggesting registered positively with her. My opinion? Pretty fantastically cool. I can't wait to hear what she uses it for next.

Artsy Editors