On a recent day trip, I was sharing about my art work -my digital iPhone self portrait series.
I title it “Portrait of A Woman.”
I was telling Adrienne, my friend, who is also an artist/photographer, how the work has influenced and shifted my self image. In the manner that good friends and artists interact, I was explaining in a deep and personal way how the series is altering the thoughts I have about myself.
|“Earth is Now”|
She wanted to know “have you been sharing your process?
Are you telling people how this worked for you?
I think you should!”
She is right.
OK, my readers, I am going to tell you.
I started turning the camera on myself some months ago. Why did I do that?
Directing the camera back on myself had not been my usual behavior.
I mostly pointed the lens outward, focusing on the world around me, people, dogs, animals, flowers.
I looked from behind the camera, never photographing directly at my face.
When I trace the process in my mind, first I recall what I consider the start – making the “The Shadow Hand” series. I took photographs of my hand, only the shadow of my hand. I was creating a sort of impending doom feel of a hand’s shadow on water, rocks and buildings.
What happened next was observation. I was beginning to use Instagram, looking at work by other photographers, in particular iPhone creators. I know I was influenced by posts in my Instagram feed.
What I was seeing was opening my mind. There were unexpected, gorgeous manipulated blended/double exposure creations. Many of them were portraits. I know some were photoshop-generated. The images were deeply attractive to me. I felt drawn to them arousing a passion in me. A spark of interest was ignited.
|“My City” (c)sldetroy2017|
The third thing that happened; I discovered apps for blending on iPhone and iPad. My excitement was growing, and I experimented. Initially I tried using portraits I had taken, but employing the method of blending while working with images of other people was not satisfying me. The resulting images did not excite me.
I took another step, wandering in my photo files. I discovered a few photos of myself that friends had taken and some from my childhood. I used these, blending my own face, my young body, with foliage, mixing images with historical photos of me. And that blending started to work. What I saw as pleasurable.
Here is the place where the spark turned into a low flame.
As with most of my work, I kept at it. I was feeding the fire.
I took photos of myself weekly, and I was storing photos of trees, building, flowers, plants, bridges, rivers. I was blending, and I was manipulating. The fire was glowing. And I have not stopped.
While the fired burned, in the midst of redirecting my camera toward my own face, while I was blending and looking at myself with the camera, something unexpected emerged.
The act of turning the camera on myself, and working with my own face rearranged my internal thought process. I recall standing in front of the bathroom mirror experiencing the idea that I was not so unhappy looking at myself. I stopped to absorb what I was feeling and thinking.
insidiously my mind I had embraced and internalized unhappy thoughts – your face, your aging body is unattractive, you are too old, you can not show your face so boldly.
As I looked at the images and at myself, I noticed that my work was creating a perceptible difference to the internalized thoughts. The self deprecation, fed by cultural messages about aging, was loosening. The mental loop stopped momentarily and in it’s place was a pause and a slight difference in how I was seeing myself.
Over time, I became more interested in the shape of my face, my profile, how the parts of my face interacted with the blended elements. To my surprise, I was liking the images and thereby, myself, in the images.
I had not started out to change the crazy loop of culture’s ageist haranguing. But change it did. Just enough to notice. And that is a surprise. This is nothing I could have consciously predicted. It is quite sobering and profound.
And this small miracle, my adventure in self portraiture, is what I want to share with you.
|“Rumors of My Sainthood Have Been Misleading” (c)sldetroy2017|
There is power in art and action. These glowing embers of change and the power in turning the focus on our lives, directly, where the art and our actions offer enlightenment.
We are not powerless and we have what it takes to change the world inside us. And that change can influence the world we live in. The fire lives in us all.
To change the pattern and step outside our habit we seek company and input. For many artists learning, working and creating in a group can amplify and give dimension to our art making process. Sharing ideas and showing what we produce and how we work, opens doors for one another.