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Katelyn Seprish | The Birdsell Project

Katelyn Seprish

The arousal and experience of pleasure is enjoyable, desired and actively pursued. But what about pleasure sought or realized through an encounter with the unexpected, the disgusting, or the grotesque? My work is fueled by this question and the many which arise from it. The lists of what generates pleasure and why are as numerous and vast (albeit unique) as those who seek it. One traditional elicitor of pleasure is beauty, but this notion is problematic because there are innumerable manifestations as to what exactly it means; simply put, what is considered beautiful varies greatly between historical periods and different cultures.

The female body is the ultimate host; of taboos, sensuality, revolt; it has the astounding ability to conjure repulsion and desire simultaneously. Disgust and desire maintain a provocative relationship in regards to the female body; the numerous dichotomies which fester within this relationship drive my artistic output. Most relevant to my work is the examination of the male and female reproductive system and psychoanalytical work pertaining to the mental health and state of the female as they pertain to feminist theory and art. I rely on feminist theory and discourse, the work of other female artists wrestling with the beast of feminism, as well as research on historical and current modes of biology and psychology. Much of the visual language I develop in my work derives from this research collectively.

This type of visual language begs the questions of what is subject and what is object, what defines ‘us’ from ‘it’ and where precisely the walls of segregation are erected, eroded or in some cases, absent. The summation of my quest is eloquently stated by Carolyn Korsmeyer: “The complexity of aversive emotions bound up with artistic beauty creates a zone where horrid, beautiful, sublime and sublate can be difficult to distinguish. But that is why some beauty is truly terrible.”

The Arousal of Curiosity