Degree Granting Department
yeti, cadmium yellow, self-flagellation, Allen McCollum, Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, kitsch, puke, earwax, Venus, chocolate turds, Rachel Hoffman, painting, masturbation, self-loathing, self-portrait, narcissism
Imagine a theater. Build one in your mind. I do not care if it is the largest theater in the universe or if it is the size of a shoebox. The theater can be an elaborate construction with gilded cherubs and priceless jewels. If you would prefer the theater to be a minimal design, imagine it that way. Maybe the theater is made out of glass or crystal. You can be all alone in the theater or maybe you are seated next to an alien, a cave man, or a robot. As the curtain rises an enormous pipe organ is spewing out J.S. Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D minor. The sound is colossal. The stage is designed to look like a filthy and bleak art studio. Sculptures that look like decaying flesh hang from the ceiling. Papers and dirty painting rags are scattered all over the floor. A roach crawls towards some moldy food in the wastebasket. A piece of beef jerky sits next to a pile of paint tubes and paintbrushes. Canvases are stacked against the wall.
Dried paint is splattered everywhere. A woman enters stage left. As she begins to speak, the music fades. "My most recent paintings are meant to serve as gateways between daily life and an exotic utopian fantasy. These strange psychological spaces function as portals into a new frontier inhabited with the most stupendous creatures. Active volcanoes, carnivorous plants, terrible lizards, pink Chihuahuas, flesh-eating insects, unidentified flying objects, and a host of other amazing things coexist in this cruel tropical paradise. "Everything I do is a self-portrait and a disguise. I imagine the characters in my paintings to be mutant clones. The act of painting is like looking in the mirror. I like to spend most of my time doing one or the other. I am driven by an insatiable urge to see what I truly look like. I suffer from an unfulfilled desire to meet myself. I am frustrated with impressions and reflections.
These confessions reveal my work as possibly the most disgusting display of narcissism in the entire history of art. "The act of painting is an absurd and self-indulgent enterprise. I paint with the ridiculous and frivolous purpose of delighting the eye. Nevertheless, my hope is that my paintings capture an important aspect of my utopian fantasy with their sumptuous surroundings embellished with rainbows, natural disasters, butterflies, exotic grasses and bizarre costumes. "My paintings can be read on many different levels from surface to deep allegory. The finished product is the result of hours upon hours of painting, pondering, and dreaming. Below the surface lies a nauseating abyss. "My work is a delicious feast for the aesthetic consumer. I am a villainous mad scientist with a hunger for immortality. My eyes are gluttonous fools. I am a mystery and a deception. Vermillion is my opulent fetish. Lemon yellow is my nemesis." The music grows louder again.
The woman begins to cackle. She then takes a deep breath and a deeper and more dramatic bow. She exits stage right--you find that you want to applaud--but unfortunately, this story is not over. I suggest that you get yourself a snack like some popcorn, chocolate, or gummy bears before reading any further. The curtain slowly and elegantly comes down.
Scholar Commons Citation
Hoffman, Rachel Gavronsky, "The artist and her muse: A romantic tragedy about a mediocre and narcissistic painter named Rachel Hoffman" (2004). Graduate Theses and Dissertations.