Kaley Weil is an emerging artist based in Los Angeles. She earned her BFA from Northwestern University with a double major in Art, Theory and Practice (ATP) and Psychology, graduating with honors in 2020. She is currently in the process of pursuing her MFA in Fine Arts.
As a feminist artist who primarily depicts the female body, Weil strives to create art that embraces and recontextualizes traditionally objectified figures with the goal reclaiming the sexualized female form. She works with a range of mediums and materials to create an immersive and accessible experience for her audience, including painting, printmaking, sculpture and installation.
Weil had her first solo exhibition, titled WomenTM, in 2021, and has participated in two group exhibitions. Her artwork has been featured in multiple short films and music videos. In addition to traditional fine arts, Weil is interested in the intersection between art and fashion, designing custom, hand-painted jackets, shoes and bags and producing her own line of hand made feminist, street style sweatshirts.
My work explores the complexities of femininity, sexuality and American consumer culture as they relate to the sexualized female form. Employing a range of mediums and materials to create an immersive and accessible experience for my audience, I explore the tension between objectification and empowerment, challenging the existing power structures that perpetuate the oppression of women by embracing traditionally objectified bodies and granting them novel authority. While classical male gaze theory assumes the sexualized woman to be powerless to the active male gaze, social media has challenged this perspective, as there exists a unique, transactional power dynamic exclusive to this new platform. Content creators act with the goal of capturing their follower’s attention and followers determine the success of a creator’s post by deciding what to give their attention to; notably both roles hold power.
Intrigued by this contemporary power dynamic, I began thinking about how women present themselves online, leading me to the question, “how can we as women publicly reclaim our sexuality and our bodies without further indoctrinating the agenda of the patriarchy and reinforcing the male gaze?”
In response, I began painting modernized female nudes, reflective of the types of images that women often post of themselves and that have come to define social media. Through the use of square canvases, a reference to the conventions of instagram, as well as specific cropping and censoring of these painted bodies, I contextualize my work within the digital sphere. By pairing these familiar erotic images with dynamic, confrontational, and instructional text, my work subverts and reverses the male gaze; the bodies are promoted to authoritative figures and the audience is repositioned as the object of the gaze, a phenomenon that is supported by the use of mirrors and second-person pronouns. My work strives to destigmatize female pleasure and sexuality, thereby, empowering women and reaffirming the essence of modern feminism: individual choice.