Week 11 Artist – Vanessa Blaylock

Vanessa Blaylock, born in Washington DC in 1969, is an avatar artist who owns a company named after herself, focusing on virtual public art. The goal of the Vanessa Blaylock Company (VBCO) is to invite avatar communities to express themselves, explore their own culture, and have the freedom to demand civil rights. It was founded in 2009 with the headquarters located in the Netherlands. The specialties of this company include virtual public and performance art, identity art, and civil rights. I find it interesting that creating avatars is belongs in the fine art industry, and that it is also a form of art in that Vanessa Blaylock established a community for people to freely express themselves in a different “identity.” Perhaps the people’s avatar is a representation of their identity, but in the virtual world, people can be their complete opposite selves, or they can be one side of many of themselves.

Other than creating different kinds of avatars, she also wrote a book titled Avatar Field Guide at the age of 26, with more than five editions. Vanessa Blaylock is also a very talented dancer! She studied dance in Hong Kong for a few years! Vanessa received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1980 presented by President Jimmy Carter at the time, and was nominated twice for the Nobel Peace Prize as the years progressed.

Below are examples of virtual avatars that Vanessa Blaylock has created. The first photo of six women standing together, created in October 2010, depicts the New Hampshire Rebellion. The second photo with the angry, fierce woman shows Fiona Blaylock, who is Vanessa’s sister, yelling at her. This is an extreme closeup and magnified avatar version of Fiona Blaylock. The remaining three photos are portraits and profile pictures of Vanessa Blaylock herself, but taken at a different angle. From the self portraits, I imagine her to be a liberal person who is confident in her identity, and has no fear or shame of who she is. I admire her boldness in creating a virtual world for people who find it comfortable as a safe space for them to express themselves and create their own identity.




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