2015 Juried Student Show Winner
Artist Statement: Self Portraits, 1 Month
Self Portraits, 1 Month is a progressive art piece spanning from December 15th, 2014 to January 13th, 2015. Every day for thirty days straight I sat down and drew my portrait in graphite exactly how I looked and felt, documenting a private, relatively unseen side of myself in art. The self portraits were not about looking beautiful, not about showing off my technical skills as an artist, and certainly not about waking up, putting on a smiling façade, and screaming to the world how absolutely fine I was. I wanted to be raw and I wanted to connect with my art in a way that was nearly uncomfortable with pure, genuine self portraits – and I wanted to share it with everyone.
Each day upon completion of my self portrait I would post it on various social media sites: Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr. I titled each piece immediately, hinting at how I was feeling and what I thought about that day; the titles were long, had their own story, and got as much attention as the portrait itself. Growing up in a new technological age has taught me that people can be desensitized once stepping behind a computer. That observation was put to the test as I, a relatively reserved person, put my face and raw emotion up for the world’s judgment – and they ate it up. Who doesn’t want to see into the artist’s mind? Looking at the portraits it is very clear which days I felt beautiful, unattractive, dismal, strong, nostalgic. It was, and is, up to the viewer – am I strong for putting myself out there, waking up in the morning and facing my demons in the mirror? Or am I self centered, egotistical, and self obsessed? Do I lack as an artist because on the days I felt less-than I portrayed myself as so rather than drawing an idolized look-alike?
I assumed correctly as within the first week the comments transformed from amazement to presumptuous, probing, and biting remarks. A project revolving around how I saw and felt about myself was quickly forgotten by internet-viewers as technical and emotional critiques trickled in. On Instagram, people who had never seen my photograph informed me I was drawing my facial features incorrectly. On Facebook, men who I never met – or talked to, for that matter – critiqued my strong feminist titles, one entering into a Facebook comment-war with another user. Another man who came to the opening of our January Student Show, unaware the artist was behind him listening to his blunt comments, informed his girlfriend that I had far too many moles on my face. More than anything viewers insisted that they tell me their favorite face, informing me of their opinion – regardless of if I asked for it - and seeing the work strictly at face value. Self Portraits, 1 Month is compelling because it puts a veil between the viewer and I, allowing them to peer closer and forget that I am actually a living, breathing person behind the glass. Our ability to dehumanize people who we are not directly looking at was displayed beautifully with this piece, bringing to light our subtle modern day social issues and hopefully resonating with those wrapped up in the age of social media.