ScreenCap from Kristine Schomaker / Gracie Kendal thesis video

Kat just wrote a great post about body identity and stereotypes amongst avatars in SL. It’s funny. I have been thinking a lot about this lately. My work is all about body image, self esteem and how the media unconsciously manipulates us into thinking we want to be thin and model beautiful so we may be more desirable for someone else.

I am doing a performance art piece on Saturday night using SL and I was just writing my artist statement. I thought about sharing it, but decided I better not. Now I have to…LOL

Now this is a very rough draft. Likely to change…


My life as an avatar

My performance, part of the “Second Skin” one night happening is a commentary on fantasy. If you could have a second chance, live a second life, create a second self, what would you look like? Who would you be?

I am not comfortable in my own skin. I wanted to find out what it would feel like to be thin, beautiful, desired. I wanted to find out what it would feel like to be able to wear any clothes, dance all night, talk to any guy without fear of rejection because of how I look. I wanted to escape the suffocating world of judgment and criticism due to my size. I wanted to escape the superficial world of the media’s distortion of beauty. So I created an avatar in the 3D online virtual world of Second Life.

This is the story of Gracie Kendal. Gracie has it all; she is a beautiful, thin, blond-haired, blue-eyed woman. She has a plethora of amazing friends; she lives in a beautiful lake-front home with three dogs and has her own loft studio. Gracie is a well-known, successful artist exhibiting in dozens of solo and group shows. She has been written about in numerous magazines and art journals, has been interviewed on television and she has been listed as one of the 10 most influential artists.

Gracie’s life began almost 6 years ago. She is an avatar. She is my avatar. Her life involves living in the virtual world of Second Life, walking around in a pixilated body and communicating through text. She is my self-portrait, my alter ego, my inner conscience. She is a character in my life story that revolves around the loss of identity, self-awareness and self-acceptance.

Using Gracie as a form of self-presentation, I started to explore my relationship with my body as well as question my own identity. I realized that everything going on in my life was manifesting in my body and in the figure of Gracie. Both were becoming a site for anxiety, fear, stress, grief, loneliness and depression. My body and that of my avatar became a source of autobiographical material in which a story was being written.


So as I have been writing this, I am conflicted. What does it REALLY mean that my avatar is one of those who fits into the stereotype I am fighting against. Yes I want to see how the “others” live. Yes I have found I feel more desirable and attractive and beautiful as Gracie. Yes I like being Gracie and can’t change her as much as I have thought about it. So how in the world do I live with myself while playing both sides???

btw… Persuasion is my favorite Jane Austen novel 😀

I will leave you with the video I did for my Masters Thesis…

Kristine Schomaker is a new media and performance artist, painter and art historian living and working at the Brewery artist complex in Los Angeles. For over 14 years she has been working with various interdisciplinary art forms including online virtual worlds to explore identity and the hybridization of digital media with the physical world. Whether virtual or physical, the object-based work Kristine creates combines elements of color-based gestural abstraction, animation, pattern and design, neo-Baroque and Populence. Using installation, text, photography, mixed media, video and performance for her ongoing conceptual project My Life as an Avatar, she visualizes a narrative/dialogue with her virtual persona, Gracie Kendal. Kristine then documents her experiences on her blog. In 2012, exploring ideas of community, Kristine turned a local gallery into a modern day creation of Gertrude Stein’s salon of the 1920’s with a live mixed-reality dinner party merging the physical world with the online virtual world. Over the summer she also performed The Bald and the Beautiful in which she had her head shaved as a statement to challenge society’s standards of beauty. Currently, Kristine is working as an Artist-in-Residence through the Linden Endowment for the Arts creating an immersive virtual environment which she is planning to bring into the physical world via sculpture/public art work.

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