Senior art project examines body images

John Oberlin

Susan Vincent, senior fine and professional arts major, shows the metalic plates used in her senior project on body image. Along with the prints, Vincent takes photos and records interviews with her participants.

Credit: Beth Rankin

Does your body cause you pain?

What activities do you participate in to take care of your body?

If it sounds like you are at a doctor’s office, you’re not. You’re in the printmaking shop deep in Van Deusen Hall.

And a doctor is not asking the questions. Fine and professional arts major Susan Vincent is for her senior project.

Using three types of mediums, Vincent is recording people’s physical and mental body images.

The project involves prints of participants’ body parts, portrait photographs and recorded interviews about the participants’ relations to their bodies.

The print process begins by evenly rolling soft ground — a mixture of beeswax, Vaseline and asphaltum varnish — onto a heated zinc plate. Once the plate cools down to a comfortable temperature, Vincent places the participant’s chosen body part on the plate and adds a little pressure.

After a couple of seconds, the body part is removed to reveal a design of grooves, hairs and any other physical characteristics that might be on the body.

Each participant chooses the body part to be printed. So far, Vincent has made prints of eight people’s body parts and says she wants to do more.

One participant chose the classic butt cheek print, which is reminiscent of the junior high library copy machine. Other prints include arms, legs, hands, breasts and scars.

From her compact workspace filled with prints, paintings, photographs and a couple of pinned insects, Vincent says she has always been interested in anatomy drawings and the next step from that is to understand how people relate to their bodies.

“A lot of people don’t think about their relation to their body,” Vincent said when asked about her participants’ responses to the project.

Among other questions, the short interview asks how often you consider your body’s inner systems, what you pay attention to in regards to your physical body and what body part you chose to soft ground and why.

Vincent said she will play the recorded interviews when showing her prints and photographs in exhibition — that is, when she finds a gallery.

Vincent says she planned to show her project at one of Kent State’s student art galleries, but there were scheduling complications. She is currently looking into other galleries.

After she graduates, Vincent says she wants to keep working at Zygote Press, Inc., a Cleveland fine art printmaking facility that provides workspaces and exhibition opportunities.

If you are interested in participating in her project, contact Susan Vincent at [email protected].

Contact fine and professional arts and College of Communication and Information reporter John Oberlin at [email protected].