“…the primary source for serious hypertext” – Robert Coover, The New York Times Book Review

Lindsay's art-making becomes a sounding board

{back] Following her class's study of artist Käthe Kollwitz, Lindsay wrote in her Storyspace web that she felt frustrated with the problems in the world because of the way people treat each other. Therefore, she tried to show her figure circumscribed within a teardrop to portray this sadness. She also commented that "you can't just say what you think is wrong you have to do something about it" and she "felt her art work could speak louder than her words!" (Lindsay, 1996).

At first Lindsay had progressed slowly in her thinking and her art making. But, once she began spending more time working in her web, her artwork began taking on a great deal more meaning and significance. Was Lindsay becoming more comfortable because of the hypertextual experience or was her web and her work changing simply because she was becoming more comfortable in the art class?

Lindsay began to reconstruct history by placing Madonna's impaling brassiere on the Venus de Milo to challenge the perceived epitome of beauty with this threatening power gear.

Lindsay continued formulating artwork to show her concerns for equality in her art class. As she grew familiar and comfortable with the "computer discussions" in her Storyspace web, she became more vocal in the class. Before class, she would rush in to raise an issue from a television commercial she believed was problematic saying that she wanted to put it in her web. Her images and sources began to turn away from general inequalities and move more toward issues of feminism. She had so many ideas of images that she wanted to create; it was difficult keeping up with the demands for women artists from whom she could draw. "Why are there so few women artists in these books?" Lindsay would question. And this comment opened even more opportunities for her work concerning her place as a woman. Lindsay found the activist art group the Guerrilla Girls' home page on the World Wide Web, and discovered the protests that this group had voiced against prejudices in some of the very art history books that she was using. Lindsay also found the film still photographs of artist Cindy Sherman and began seeing the ways that women are depicted by such media as film and television. Lindsay began to explore the art of Judy Chicago, Barbara Kruger, and Adrian Piper as she looked for more artworks that confronted women's issues so that she could add them to her hypertext web. She was looking at specific concerns such as what is perceived as "sexy," teen pregnancy, and the results of alcoholic or drug addicted births. Lindsay began to reconstruct history by placing pop singer Madonna's signature pointed brassiere on the Venus de Milo. Lindsay beamed as she explained her motives, to any and everyone who asked. She challenged this symbol of beauty with Madonna's threatening power gear.

The resulting artwork, writing, and research, linked to this drawing, revealed more than just a means to grieve or offer sympathy.

Lindsay was then shocked and devastated when a local woman was shot and killed by her estranged husband and father of her four children. The slain woman had been an important part of the school. She had been the coach of the girls’ softball and soccer teams, past president of the PTA, and organizer of the After Prom celebration. The art class became a haven where students' could release anger and shed tears. Lindsay was especially distraught. The oldest daughter, who was also injured in the attack, was her close friend. Lindsay didn’t know what to do. In her web, she explained her latest artwork. She created a drawing of a man's feet with a very small woman kneeling beside them and the back view of small child in the foreground. She placed the word "Power" on the drawing and explained that she was as confused, as was this child, about men's power over women. As Lindsay struggled to deal with the loss of her friend’s mother she began creating a graphite portrait of the slain woman. She placed a purple ribbon on her lapel as a symbol of the fight against violence towards women. Lindsay wrote in her Storyspace web that this was a tribute and gift to the family who had lost both mother and father in this horrible and violent act. Lindsay might have been moved to create this work with or without her Storyspace experience. Art class typically offers the place for such catharsis. However, the resulting artwork, writing, and research, linked to this drawing, revealed more than just a means to grieve or offer sympathy to the family. It provided a way for Lindsay to see how this and so many other—both horrible and wonderful—life texts affected her existence.

Lindsay linked an explanation of her drawing of the slain woman with another work entitled Honesty. In this drawing Lindsay pictured a boy, gagged by a red scarf, looking directly at the viewer in front of a background of the repeated word "honesty." Her linked explanation revealed Lindsay's own struggles with this issue.

I think that lies are just about the root of all evil. Everybody lies, some more than others, but I would be lying if I said I never lied. Some lies are considered worse than other lies, but when you really think about it, a lie is a lie. I always thought of myself not as hurtful of a liar as others can be because I don't lie to people if they find out the truth their feelings would be hurt. But, I guess you could think about it this way—just some one finding out that someone lied to them might hurt their feelings (Lindsay, 1996).

The paths she created in her web formed a progressive view of the growth and discovery that she experienced both in and outside of her art class.

Lindsay linked this space to Kollwitz's The Survivors and then back to the slain woman's drawing explaining that the survivors of such abuse have a responsibility to help others. Lindsay created another link to her drawing of a coat with figures in the background reaching for the warmth the coat would provide. This work was linked to another drawing related to hunger and then back to Kollwitz’s The Survivors and on to the slain woman's portrait. Lindsay continued to link and connect her works, journals and artists that she studied. The paths she created in her web formed a progressive view of the growth and discovery that she experienced both in and outside of her art class.

Lindsay shouts her story

It was soon after Lindsay expressed her grief and concern for the death of her friend's mother that she began looking at the work of artist Adrian Piper. She was particularly interested in Piper's photograph with text entitled Political Self-Portrait #3 (Class). In this piece, Piper typeset the story of her young realization of color and class and imposed the text over the entire surface of her photographed self-portrait. The story describes her visit to a school friend's home on 5th Avenue in New York City. After her visit, Piper rushed to her own Harlem home to tell her mother that she had found a wonderful place where her family should move. It was not until this point in her life that Piper realized that who and what she was dictated where and how she lived, as well as what she might become.

Lindsay was greatly moved by Piper's story and became especially interested in the use of text in works of art. Although Lindsay’s artwork had changed, becoming more meaningful as it dealt with hunger, abuse, and women's issues, she was still searching for a way to say something that was very important to her. Her study and understanding of Piper's very revealing and personal story inspired Lindsay to find her own voice and a way to tell her own story. She feverishly and sometimes tearfully, wrote the story of her frightening relationship with her boyfriend.

Before last year, my junior year in high school, I feel I led a normal life, I had boyfriends and girlfriends just like any other 17 year-old girl. Then I started to see another guy, M. M. interested me because he seemed to be so carefree and he never tried to be someone he wasn't to impress other people and he always stood up for what he believed. It turned out, that those very things that attracted me to him were what caused all our problems later. We were together for about six months. For the first three or four, things went okay. We got along with each other and had a lot of fun when we were together, but then in the last few months of our relationship, things started going very badly. It all started with M. getting insanely mad at little things other people just wouldn't. One night on the phone he commented that he was tired and I said, "Boy, you're always tired!" M. took offense to this and yelled that it wasn't true. He continued yelling, completely changing the subject saying that I don't have to work like he did, I just had everything handed to me which gave him yet another time that he could call me a spoiled brat and a bitch.

Other days followed where we got into fights, most of the time in school which gave him a chance to yell at me in front of my friends, his friends, and whole classes and show how in charge he was of me. My friends began to get concerned with our relationship especially after he started making threatening comments. One day at lunch M. was complaining about the pizza we were having and was mad that it looked like leftovers. I said "God M. like you never eat leftover pizza at home!" I said that right in front of the lunch lady and whenever I said anything like that to M. in front of people it really made him mad. Once we got out of the line he grabbed me by the arm and said "What have I told you about talking so loud?" It always made me mad that he could yell at me in front of all kinds of people and let anyone he felt like know our private business, but when it came to me talking about our problems and relationship, I had better just keep my mouth shut. I never said anything to him about that, though. So anyway, I broke away from his grasp and started walking away from him. He ran after me and this time grabbed me by the neck, "Don't walk away from me!!" he said. I broke free again and started walking away, a little faster this time. He yelled after me "I'm not done talking to you, bitch!" I yelled back at him to leave me alone. By the time we both got to the table, he was pretty mad, telling me things like that someone needed to teach me a lesson and he'd love to be the one to do it. He'd love to just punch me right between the eyes and knock me on my ass. You would think that I would have broken up with him then, but I didn't. We stayed together a while longer and then on May 15th, he broke up with me.

People would think that it was me that would have broken up with him, but believe it or not, after all he did to me, I had loved him and cared about him a lot. I was sad when he broke up with me, but it didn't take too long before I realized it was for the best. What people don't understand is that when you are in a relationship like that, where things just gradually change and by the time things get very bad, you care about the person who is doing them to you, you don't really realize what's going on. Instead of saying to myself that I didn't deserve this kind of treatment, I made excuses for him as to why he was doing it. Over the summer, I had time away from M. and time to think about everything that had happened the year before. Without M. I was a much happier person and the whole experience I feel, helped me to grow as a person and figure out where I stand on different issues.
I thought M. was out of my life forever, I was wrong. Close to the end of the summer he called me and wanted to talk. I agreed to see him. We were friends for a while, school started and we were still friends and on the first day of school he asked me to go over to his house. The minute I got there he kissed me and I realized that he didn't just want to be friends. I'm almost ashamed to admit that I did consider starting to date him again. I remembered the times the year before that we were together and got along and I missed them. However, I also thought about everything else that happened and I'm happy to say I told him that I would not get involved with him again. That was the end of our friendship. A long time went by and we didn't even speak, but then M. got mad again because he heard that I had said something about him. He came into one of my classes and yelled at me in front of everyone. The last thing he ever said to me was in that class and he said that if he ever heard I said another thing about him he would cram his dick down my throat. The teacher from that class gave him I.S.S. [In-school suspension] which I knew would make him furious, but a week went by and I hadn't heard from him so I thought maybe he was just going to leave me alone, but then my car was keyed in the school parking lot. People thought I was crazy for not doing anything about it, but I felt that I would rather just let him have that satisfaction if it meant he would leave me alone for good. It's been months since that happened and I haven't had a run in with him since. However, even though it's been almost a year since we broke up, I still think about him everyday, and to be perfectly honest, I still care about him. I don't know how I'd feel if something ever happened to him. I do know though, that I had better just stay away from him, nothing good could happen between us and I could never be friends with him again (Lindsay, 1996).

Figure 2. Lindsay's self-portrait and story were influenced by artist Adrian Piper

Lindsay's story was printed in bold type on an 8 1/2" x 11" sheet of paper. Using colored pencils directly on the text, she created a self-portrait drawing from one of her cheerleader photographs in the yearbook. She felt this particular photograph looked like the all-American girl without a care in the world. Lindsay knew and remembered that at the time this photograph was taken, her world seemed to be coming apart. And because she felt powerless to do anything about it, she had remained quiet and submissive.