I want to investigate the concepts of modern beauty and how it has an influence on people, particularly women in their 20s and 30s in contemporary Korean society. As society changes, the standard of beauty changes and the social expectations for beauty grow. In general women are more concerned about their looks than men are, because beauty plays a major role in their life through first impression and social status. However, with a strong focus on consumerism and society’s standard of beauty, women have turned to materialistic goods, especially purses and high heels, to satisfy the artificial ideal beauty. It has resulted in women becoming more obsessed with the way they look and leading them to spend more time and money to acquire the products for their external beauty in order to enhance their self-esteem and to increase their confidence.

Purses and high heels are merely products, but they have a symbolic meaning of female desire that has becomes a reflection of the culture in modern day. As women’s advancement in society has increased, they have been able to use purses and high heels as a means of expressing outer beauty more than practicality, and aesthetics to support their attractiveness. Those ordinary items have gained value into becoming “must have” items for the modern women and symbolize the desires for beauty in modern women. I believe that these products have become an obsession among the young generation that questions the personal issue of identity in the context of current day societal convention.

By investigating the ironic tendencies that accompany notions of beauty and desires, especially in women within the current day, my thesis aims to attain a better understanding of female behavior, obsession, consumerism, materialism, and vanity.

I have researched contemporary artists of international standing: Sylvie Flery who is known for her critical works which reveal fashion and luxury as deceptive appearances; Barbara Kruger who critiques consumerism and desires; and Hyun-jung Kim who seeks to break certain stereotypical expectations towards Korean women, revealing their real desires for beauty and addressing the faux-naif. Their works reflect the feminine psychology: the desires for beauty, an obsession with luxury, and women’s vanity which are related to my theme. I will look into their perspective of modern beauty and how they express their thoughts through their artworks.

Concerning materials, I have utilized characteristics associated with glass such as transparency, reflection, and glossiness in order to express a heightened sense of vanity, elegance, and beauty, which fit into the themes of female desires. Moreover, I will use another materiality of glass: fragility. By using the medium of glass frits and powders to be seen as very fragile and weak, such as relics, that allows me to convey the message that nothing is permanent.

Through the satirical use of ordinary female items as a metaphor for female beauty in my work, I want viewers to reflect upon how they define themselves. My other intent is to focus on how personal identity develops in this era where beauty ideals are constructed.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Glass art; Handbags--Pictorial works

Publication Date


Document Type


Student Type


Degree Name

Glass (MFA)

Department, Program, or Center

School for American Crafts (CIAS)


David Schnuckel

Advisor/Committee Member

Juan Carlos Caballero-Perez

Advisor/Committee Member

Robin Cass


Physical copy available from RIT's Wallace Library at NK5205.C464 A4 2016


RIT – Main Campus

Plan Codes