Art, Art History and Design, School of


First Advisor

Aaron Holz

Date of this Version


Document Type



A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College of the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For The Degree of Master of Fine Arts, Major: Art ,Under the Supervision of Professor Aaron Holz. Lincoln, Nebraska: April, 2023

Copyright © 2023 Courtney Kuehn


“If the whole universe can be found in our own body and mind, this is where we need to make our inquires.” -Ayya Khema

The physical making of drawing is a meditative way of coping with the struggles I am facing as well as a way of self-discovery. I have always felt this severe indifference about myself that has forced an unhealthy view of my body. Drawing my body makes me view myself differently and forces me to really confront the innate and learned shameful view I have of myself both physically and mentally. I do not think I know who I am. I have not given myself the permission or the time to explore who I am as a human, which is what I am doing through my art right now—exploring my insecurities, beliefs, sexuality, strengths, and weaknesses. But once my drawings are put up on a wall in a public setting, they do not belong to just me anymore. It is now not just a conversation with me but with others, because it is also the viewer that gives the drawings their power and potency.

My subject matter is my body. I focus on areas of the body that are viewed by society as “problematic” or not “aesthetically pleasing” such as acne, stretch marks, body hair, birth marks, and skin folds. I view the 18” x 24” paper as a body where I position the cropped section of skin, which is on a one-to-one scale, on the paper in relation to where it is on my body. The cropping of the drawings also gives me permission to detach myself from my anatomy, making it easier to view the subject as simply as what it is—skin. The way I draw is time consuming and meticulous, therefore, I am forced to slow down and study my skin to get as many details as I can onto the paper. This also forces the viewer to slow down to examine and appreciate the details, just like I did while drawing. When we slow down, we often think about what we are looking at a little harder; more questions arise, and more opinions are made.

In addition to the drawings of my physical body, I have also included a drawing of a note my niece gave me, which gives insight as to how others feel about me. The note drawing expresses internal feelings, specifically from another person, while the body drawings express external feelings, specifically from me. When put together, these drawings give a sense as to how complex it is to view yourself as a person worthy of love and respect. Everyone has something about themselves that they do not like. There is pressure put on us to look and feel a certain way. Instead of trying to “fix” myself through drawing, I am trying to understand and appreciate who and what I am right now.

Advisor: Aaron Holz

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