Samantha Lyn Aasen is an artist reacquainting herself to the Midwest. Born in Indianapolis, she spent several years in the Southwest before returning to her home to Indiana. Her work in heavily influenced on her experience in growing up a young girl in suburbia. She questions the transition between girlhood and womanhood. Often Aasen’s work is manifested in photographs, but has also included performances, installations, videos, and objects. Her inspiration comes from reality
Countless products marketed to young girls are coated in glitter, have a shiny pink surface, or are covered in rhinestones. These products can be wall decorations, dress-up play outfits, or birthday party favors. These same attractive qualities of high glitz are then transported to products marketed to adults, which take the form of vibrators, bachelorette party favors, and pubic decorations called Vajazzles.
Sparkle Baby explores gender, sexuality, and pop culture by seeking out the shifting boundary between girlhood and womanhood. It is a manifestation of my own ambivalence towards the Princess-industrial-complex. Young women who seek to understand their identity through mass media representations of women find conflicting presentations: empowerment of women is shown with the guerilla art movement aimed to end cat calling: “Stop Telling Women to Smile,” and Beyonce projecting the word “FEMINIST” in capital letters at the MTV Music awards nearly broke Twitter. Opposing those notions, seventeen-year-old Kylie Jenner of the Kardashian clan posed nearly naked selfies on Instagram with her 25-year-old boyfriend, and brides as young as fifteen are being married off on the television show My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding. Women are still being objectified through degrading images while feeling a compulsion to be sexually available.
Sparkle Baby blurs the line of child and adult in a perverse way. Glitter and pink products appeal to young girls and grown women as symbols of idealized girlhood. This packaging of girlhood aligns itself with absurd societal expectations of the female form in beauty treatments like Brazilian waxes, acrylic nails, infantilizing clothing and glittery cosmetics for adult women. Pink and glitter are juxtaposed with painful and sometimes grotesque attempts to meet these expectations.
Sparkle Baby is partially an attempt to relive the time in adolescence when I was exploring my sexuality and femininity and actually desired an ultra feminine identity that I never was allowed to express. By re-presenting images of myself as a character I play out aspects of this desire and repulsion embedded in my own girlhood and within American consumer culture. I also present parts of my studio, where I performed for the camera, to reference the construct of gender and femininity and the staged nature and making the images.
Herberger Institute for Design and The Arts
Arizona State University
Masters of Fine Arts, Studio Art with a concentration in Intermedia
Graduation: May 2015
Herron School of Art and Design
Indianapolis University Purdue University Indianapolis
Bachelors of Fine Arts, Photography
Minor in Art History
Graduation: May 2011
Columbia College Chicago
September 2007 to May 2008
Concentration: Photography and Fashion Design
Society for Photographic Education
(January 2012 to Present)
Women’s Caucus; Midwest Region
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