The personal narrative in art has always fascinated me. The concepts of who we are, what we project, how we carry ourselves and our story through these ever changing and shifting times that we navigate, and how that can all be flipped in an instant of recognition.
All these ideas started to flood my mind after viewing the Artists Wanted, Top 50 People’s Choice Artists for their recent contest The Power of Self. I applaud all the artists involved for their contributions, willingness to take a risk, and for their confidence and trust in putting themselves out there for the world to see.
It is not an easy task tackling self portraiture, and the topic begs the question of where does one begin, and what angle does one take in today’s modern age?
Are you limited to the physical self, your home, location, or space, your belongings, your race, religious beliefs or gender, or can one strive to articulate a bigger vision based on the intangible aspects of one’s personality such as emotions, ideas, and dreams?
I question if creating art isn’t just all a process of self reflection when broken down to the core level.
Is every artwork one makes autobiographical? Can an artist be summed up by a single object they create or a body of work? Does the act of creating a self portrait liberate the artist from any preconceived notion of self? Is there room for reinterpretation over time? Can what we make today transform into something new tomorrow?
These are questions I pondered while absorbing the images from artists; Marlon Henao, Annett Reimer, Rebekka Guldleifsdottir, Sarah Ann Loreth, Carolee Beckham, Dominique Brunzlik, and Jessica Browne-White who all utilize different techniques and avenues in addressing the scope of these ideas.
In a world oversaturated with images and one where everyone now carries a camera built into their cellphones, we as artists have to take into account how we are perceived and what we present to the public eye. We must be keenly aware of not only what we show in galleries and online, but also be aware that there will be (regardless of what precautions we take) some innate implication, assumptions, and judgments based on our appearance and not the merit of the work itself.
So we must continue to fight the good fight and do our best to be open to new ideas, new people, and new modes of translation.
In the end though we can only see the world through our own eyes and know intimately our own thoughts and ideas. However through practice, patience, and with mindfulness and empathy we can learn to see the world, our peers, and ourselves objectively and as players in a universal game we all play.
Art helps us see the chess board for what it is.