Artist Teri Frame Lectures on Beauty Standards

By Mary Rodack
Jambar Contributor

Teri Frame visited Youngstown State University April 3 and 4 for a lecture and to perform her piece “Whiteface.”

According to Frame’s lecture, she received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Kansas City Art Institute and a Master of Fine Arts from Pennsylvania State University.

Frame said as an art student she started out as a traditional ceramist. Frame recalled a professor of hers describing her work as technically good but lacking a sense of experimentation.

“If you’re not failing, you’re not taking enough risks,” Frame said.

In Frame’s master’s program, she went on to continue making large ceramics, she said. An injury forced her to stop making large projects and she searched for a new type of art form she could create.

Frame dove into projection and photography. She focused on old family photographs she got from different relatives.

“I began to project these [images] onto the pieces, and then carve the images in the pieces,” Frame said. “I was thinking of them as tattoos of familial memory.”

Frame created several different series using this technique or similar methods of projection. She continued this work from 2005 until 2007.

As Frame created her path in the art field, she said she read multiple books about the theory of abjection and human behavior.

“Abjection is a complex theory,” Frame said. “It explores humankind’s need to categorize and find.”

Frame said she began to explore adding two contrasting elements together in photography. She wanted to add the “beautiful and grotesque” together in one photograph. One example presented in her lecture was a picture of a birthmark combined with a photograph of her great great grandmother.

Frame said she began to depict Western cultures’ obsession with whiteness and the aristocracy associated with it. She first presented the theme to the public with her pieces “Self-Portrait with Greco-Roman Nose” and “I am not an Animal” in 2007.

Frame’s “Pedestal Piece” in 2008 was her first performance piece.

“In 2005 the work was really evolving, but this is when my performative work began,” Frame said.

Frame was covered in clay on her front and a clay mask was put on her back, she said. The pedestal was cut for her, and she was able to move a small amount during the performance.

The front of the piece was female and the back was male to express the themes of gender and ambiguity, she said.

Frame was able to create multiple performances in an art gallery she had access to during 2009. The first year she experimented with masks and putting them on her body Frame said.

Two years later Frame created “Pre-human, Post-human, In-human Acts I-IV,” discussing the beauty standards and what people consider normal features for humans.

“This is the tour de force of my work,” Frame said. “It is a six-act performance and video piece.”

Frame’s new performance piece, “Whiteface,” brought her to Youngstown State University. She began researching plastic surgery, specifically rhinoplasty. Books “The History of Whiteness” and “The Monstrous Races in Medieval Art and Thought” influenced her to discuss the history of whiteness in the world.

“[‘Whiteface’] deals with the notion of how whiteness emerged … and continued to develop with colonialism, particularly through art and media,” Frame said.

Frame also explained she was not ready to make an official and complete statement due to the newness of the piece.

Naomi Carrier, a sophomore digital media student, said she liked Frame’s approach to putting clay on herself and blending human with animal in art.

“She seems more politically motivated,” she said. “I’m more supportive of art that talks about social justice and political movements.”

Carrier said she wishes Frame would go more avant-garde or abstract because that is when her art seems to shine the most. Carrier also went to the “Whiteface” performance the next night in McDonough Museum.

“I thought it was really cool, and I liked how it was a combo of the Dana School of Music students and Teri Frame’s performance,” Carrier said.