JSU Student Symposium 2020
Women in Visual Arts: A Conversation about Agency and the Male Gaze



Faculty Mentor

Tray Ridlen, Art & Design


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Houston Cole Library, 11th Floor | 8:30-8:40 a.m.


Why are women always being looked at? Laura Mulvey, a feminist film theorist, poses this question in her influential article, “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema”. In her article, Mulvey argues that films are constructed with the idea that the viewer is male. Because of this, women are always depicted as objects of male pleasure. This is one example of the male gaze. The theory of the male gaze has a strong presence in museums as well. We continue to see sexualized female bodies that are depicted by men and in return, this has masculinized the museum environment.

The male gaze silences women and constructs them as being passive and submissive instead of being free to live in their natural environments and do what they please. Within the art historical canon, there are several examples of women being subject to the male gaze and in result, these women lack agency. They lack any individual choices or actions, rather the male artist renders them based on their imagination, with little consideration for women’s reality.

With this project, I sought to give the narrative and agency back to the women. I selected four works from within the art historical canon that displayed a clear representation of these theories, from such artists as Titan, Ingres, Renoir, and Picasso. I created four illustrations based on the works from these artists. I used simplified forms and a vibrant color palette to express the women’s freedom and joy for life. Then I included objects and ideals of relaxation and self-care, so they become snapshots into these women’s lives.

It is with this greater understanding of women in society, culture, and the arts that I was able to synthesize my own artistic reaction with these illustrations.


student presentations, student posters, art, gender studies


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Art and Design

Presentation Information

Weaver, T. (2020, 14 February). Women in visual arts: A conversation about agency and the male gaze. Poster presented at the 2020 JSU Student Symposium, Jacksonville State University, Jacksonville, AL.

Women in Visual Arts: A Conversation about Agency and the Male Gaze