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Date of Award

Spring 2011

Document Type

Restricted Thesis: Campus only access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Art History

First Advisor

Dr. Olenka Pevny


I first became familiar with the work of Alison Watt during my semester spent abroad studying art history at the University of Edinburgh. It was there, wandering the halls of the National Gallery of Scotland, where I encountered one of her paintings, Sabine. To say that this painting had an immediate, deep impact on me is irrefutable, as I spent what felt like hours standing before it, taking it in, enraptured by the folds and creases of its painted fabric. Before long, I was engulfed in the work’s ethereal forms that I could no longer only see, but touch and experience corporeally. Yet, something inherent within the work remained puzzling. What was it about Sabine that, for me, elicited such a powerful and physically evocative response? How could a painting of ordinary cloth have a significant, transformative effect on its viewer? It was not until later, examining her other work, that I realized it is the intrinsic, metaphoric suggestion of the body, its crevices and the rippling of its flesh, that makes the work so accessible, so penetrable to the human eye. In Sabine and her other paintings, Watt is appealing to the viewer’s senses by allusion and by suggestion, allowing her painted cloth to transcend its materiality to become something new and evocative of femininity.