Study researches self reflection in art

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Artwork is a reflection of an artist’s vision and sometimes a reflection of the artist’s self.

When examining the connection between art and the artist, one question that arises is what purpose does the work serve for the artist psychologically?

For Scout Northway’s senior thesis she explored these ideas through a psychobiographical study of the filmmaker Wes Anderson and his work.

Psychobiography, Northway explained in her presentation, is an attempt to understand the artist by looking at the work.

In her case, obstacles in her research made

looking at the work the bulk of the project.
Whereas normally a psychobiography would consist of focusing very closely on evidence from the life alongside the work Wes Anderson’s intensely private life caused her to have to look more closely at

his films, she said.
Anderson, she said, rarely talks about his work

emotionally or about himself and evades questions about his family. Therefore, Northway had to alter her methods.

Her process largely consisted of looking at what little Anderson has shared about his past, specifically his parents’ divorce, tracing and analyzing repetitive themes related to dysfunctional families that exist in his work, and then using psychological theories as “anchors” in her analysis to speculate about what

those repeated themes, in connection to his film style and other traits, reflect about him.

Though Anderson’s extreme privacy made Northway’s goal of writing a psychobiography more difficult, the mystery was part of the draw.

She intends to hold onto the project and add to it eventually, writing more about other psychological theories in relation to Anderson.

She also might add more in relation to evidence from the filmmaker’s life if he reveals more about himself in the coming years.

“I think I will always be interested in the work and try to keep up with it as his career furthers,” she

An ultimate goal for Northway is publishing her

senior thesis.


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