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Past SPE Annual Conferences

Morgan Ford Willingham

SPE Member since 2005
Member Chapter: Midwest

Application Portfolio

The Beauty Mask

beauty n. 1. One that is beautiful. 2. A quality or feature that is most effective, gratifying, or telling.

mask n. 1. A covering for all or part of the face, worn to conceal one’s identity. 2. Anything that disguises or conceals.

This on-going series explores how natural beauty is masked by cosmetics that women use every day, and how the language of advertising is absorbed into the subconscious, where it constantly influences what women buy and how they perceive themselves. The text in this work is appropriated from advertising slogans found in popular women’s magazines and signifies how the linguistics of advertising subconsciously persuades women to buy cosmetic products that alter their physical appearance. The repetition of phrases throughout the work alludes to the repetitive nature of cosmetic rituals many women partake in on a daily basis. In the newest phase of this series, the work addresses my personal reaction to how advertising bombards women every day, and considers the evolution and implications of the Renaissance portrait.

The series consists of photographic, mixed media works. This includes digital photographs, an installation of masks formed from fabric and thread, photographs with organza hand-sewn with thread on them, and photographs with appropriated text carved into wax painted onto the surface. The use of material symbolizes the application of various cosmetic products on the skin, as well as the way in which advertising is absorbed by the subconscious. The appropriated text from advertisements correlates to the products being used on the body part depicted.

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