Date of Award

Spring 6-3-2016

Document Type

Honors Project

University Scholars Director

Dr. Jeff Keuss

First Advisor/Committee Member

Dr. Katie Kresser

Second Advisor/Committee Member

Professor Scott Kolbo


individualism, history of portraiture, contemporary art, sociology, identity construction, oil painting


This joint research and creative honors project challenges the traditional painted portrait of Western culture. I do this through a study of the history of portraiture compared to construction of identity in the contemporary world. I argue that the traditional portrait of a single and serious individual doesn’t truly express what it means to be human today. Instead, I propose that a “sociological portrait” may be more accurate because it accounts for both the large, societal constructs that shape our identity as well as our more personal and emotional states. I argue that the most accurate way to unite those tensions within each person is through relationships—that the way our family interacts with us shapes what our gender is, that the religious beliefs of my best friend shape my own, that the racial experiences of my non-white friends shape the way I view my whiteness. In this paper, I explain in greater depth what I mean by this kind of portrait. I also reference my body of artwork based on this theory, called Being Me Because of You.


A project submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the University Scholars Program

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