You Looked Pretty Today: A Senior Thesis by Dessie Jackson

Listen: art shows can often be boring and filled with yuppie, overly-pretentious noodles. But not this one. The “You Looked Pretty Today” thesis show by artist Dessie Jackson located in the womb of Temple University’s Tyler building coincided with other senior thesis presentations making up a really cool event of emerging artists in the Philadelphia scene. The exhibit was just a small glimpse into the world of the rising star, Dessie.  Her art has widespread appeal but is personal enough to show a glimpse into the artist's mind, a tasteful skill few creators hold. The back drop to her exhibit was reminiscent of a playful yet twisted bedroom. The walls were filled with collages of women you might see on your sister's dresser, but they were distorted in such a way to evoke a clash of emotion.  Some had big googly eyes while others had mouths protruding out of other mouths in a strange yet intriguing copy-cat type of collage assembly. One striking piece was a chandelier of barbie dolls stripped down and huddled together like moths flocking to the light bulb in the center. The barbies, each one different in type, nevertheless coalesced into one coherent structure. Viewers could perhaps interpret this placement of the dolls as a sort of feminist breaking-of-the-mold with both a uniformity in the distribution of the dolls and a well-kept nature of their appearance implying both an independence and solidarity among women.  The focal light in the center of the piece evokes imagery of progression in society for women declaring their individualistic and collective aims of freedom and expression.  Lastly, the central piece of the exhibit was a visual display of the artist herself applying her daily routine of makeup with her eyes closed.  The visual shows how ingrained in the muscle memory a woman's routine of makeup application really is. Dessie's decision to apply the makeup without looking may also represent a form of hypocritical rebellion to normative beauty aesthetics in modern society: the artist refuses to look at her face when applying the makeup which implies she does not care what others think of her appearance, but the mere fact that she is still applying the makeup draws attention to her inability to escape the desire to be seen as pretty by outsiders.  From a male perspective this juxtaposition of meanings calls for a reevaluation of what we perceive as beauty: why do we desire that women apply colors and hues to hide their natural appearance? Are we codifying into law perhaps contentious standards of attraction dominant in American culture and media? Needless to say, the "You Looked Pretty Today" exhibition by up-and-coming Philly artist Dessie Jackson was both thought-provoking and inspiring.  Checkout more from this dopeass chick below:

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Written by Anthony Coleman & Joe Pitts