John C. Young scholar Sadhvika Reddy ’17 explores the concept of exotic women
When John C. Young (JCY) Scholar Sadhvika Reddy ’17 starts her work with the AmeriCorp Project in Chicago, she will have a greater understanding of social relations thanks to her yearlong project titled “The Exoticized Woman: The Commodification of Other-ized Women in Visual Culture.”
The idea for her topic came from an art and body course she took with Associate Professor of Art History Jay Bloom that explored how representations of the body constitute an essential platform for constructions of and challenges to the fundamental understandings of being and identity, calling attention to issues of gender, race, class, death and the afterlife.
In the class, Reddy had the opportunity to examine images of the human form across various cultural geographies and historical moments in order to investigate how the body has been used to explore the nature of the human condition.
The final paper she wrote for the class allowed her to explore this concept, which led to her JCY project, as she wanted to dig deeper into the theories and concepts discussed in the class.
“When you think about the history that informs that concept, there’s a lot more to it,” Reddy said. “It’s really complex.”
During her research, she traced the history from orientalism to today and how that’s been perpetuated.
“There’s a lot of literature about the commodification and sexualization of black women in culture, but there’s this huge gap between black and everything else that’s not white, so I’m trying to fill that gap,” she said. “When there’s not much literature on a subject, it can be really challenging to put a project together.”
Reddy says her biggest obstacle was trying to write about something that hasn’t really been researched before, but in spite of that, it was a learning experience for her.
“It’s been a good experience learning to piece together all of the information that not many people have tied together,” she said.
Even though Reddy faced several challenges along the way, she shared that her biggest takeaway from the experience is to not be afraid to venture into an unexpected territory.
“I knew it was an unexplored area, but I didn’t understand to what extent,” she said.
Reddy had the help of Visiting Assistant Professor of Art History Amy Frederick when it came to research and understanding her topic, which was something they both appreciated.
“Sadhvika has grown tremendously as a scholar and a writer, which the dedicated focus of the John C. Young Scholar program allows a student to do,” Frederick said. “Truly, her enthusiasm for her topic and our discussions about this project have been some of the highlights of my academic year.”
by Kerry Steinhofer
June 5, 2017