Artist Hopes Her Work Brings Awareness to Body Image Misconceptions

  • Artist and CSUN Arts Alumni Chapter President Kristine Schomaker. Photo by Tony Pinto.

Multidisciplinary artist and CSUN alumna Kristine Schomaker ’03 (Art History), M.A. ’10 (Art Studio) has confronted her body image fears and self-worth head-on in the name of art.

As a self-described plus-sized woman, Schomaker was always self-conscious about her body and weight. At a young age, she witnessed her family members struggle with these same insecurities; although, in her eyes, they didn’t appear to be overweight. Although it hurt her own perception of her body, Schomaker says this helped her realize that the way we see ourselves is not always accurate or healthy. All of this propelled her career in art and a recent exhibition.

“Perceive Me” — Schomaker’s multidisciplinary art exhibition was held Oct. 9 to Dec. 12 at the MOAH:CEDAR (an experimental art gallery that is part of the Museum of Art & History in Lancaster).

In the exhibition, Schomaker invited 60 artists to paint, draw, photograph, sculpt and videotape her nude. She wanted to be able to view herself through the eyes of society. For someone who has always struggled with their body image, Schomaker said, it took a lot of courage and she hopes this project inspired others to feel more comfortable in their own skin. Video and images of this exhibition can still be viewed online.

“People of all body sizes struggle with insecurities, and it comes from the media, how we grew up, how we socialized, hearing comments, other people judging other people, and so on,” Schomaker said. “This project is about having these important conversations about the root of our problems in order to build awareness and challenge these ideas about our bodies. We need to learn to love our bodies as they are, and we should also learn to love other people’s bodies as well.”

In 2009, as a graduate student at CSUN, Schomaker learned that she had an eating disorder. At the time, she wanted to be thin because she wanted attention, opportunities that she could potentially get because of looks, and not to be judged negatively by others, she said. She turned to art as her safe space.

“I started to use art as a form of therapy, getting out these ideas, challenging my own beliefs, and telling my story to help others was really important for me to do,” Schomaker said.

Now, Schomaker has the confidence to question society and why we do the things we do. Rather than wearing uncomfortable clothes or spending hours fixing ourselves up in the mirror, Schomaker said she believes that accepting ourselves for who we are should take precedence — and our interests and comfort should be prioritized.

“I don’t want to spend the rest of my life on the energy that we put into worrying about our appearances and bodies because at the end of the day, we are just worrying about what another person thinks of us,” she said. “I don’t want to waste my energy on that anymore.”

Schomaker is currently the president of the CSUN Arts Alumni Chapter and said she wants to share her work with the CSUN community and anyone else looking for inspiration. The chapter, which offers professional and personal development and networking opportunities, is open to Matadors interested in the art world.