My research paper, “Abstract Temptation: Vanessa Bell’s Artistic Journey Amidst Temptations of Her Own,” provides a study into four of her most influential and thought-provoking paintings with links to the theme of temptation and legacies. While analyzing the ethical consequences of temptations, I suggest that temptations are not always bad. They can lead to unethical, and selfish decisions that can harm our legacies; however, if we choose to fight temptation and make the best decisions ethically, the world and our legacies will benefit. The paintings I chose to analyze––Iceland Poppies, Studland Beach, Nude with Poppies, and Interior with a Table, St Tropez all tackle temptation and legacies in their own ways and fit into a broader theme of ethical dilemmas through decision-making. In Iceland Poppies, poppies and a medicine bottle demonstrate temptations and prompt introspection. Studland Beach represents temptations within relationships and the lasting impact of decisions; Nude with Poppies shows the theme of temptation through a nude figure and poppies as a metaphor for addiction. And finally, Interior with a Table, St Tropez challenges the idea that temptation is not always bad and encourages decision–making that may help us find true happiness and provide us a noteworthy legacy in the end. Art allows us to see ourselves reflected in a variety of ways and reveals new perspectives into our own life decisions. Specifically, through the study of Vanessa Bell’s artworks and complicated life as a member of the Bloomsbury Group, temptation, legacies, and ethical dilemmas can be analyzed and understood in a new way.
Perry, Maggie, "Abstract Temptation: Vanessa Bell’s Artistic Journey Amidst Temptations of Her Own" (2021). Student Research. 35, Scholarly and Creative Work from DePauw University.
Winner of the 2021 Prindle Prize for Ethics from a First-Year Seminar.