Deborah Barkun

Bridget Costello

Elizabeth Damore

Andrea DeGiorgi

Molly Finnegan

Zlatan Gruborovic

Mariana Martin

Michael J. McClure

Sara Morasch

Jeanne-Marie Musto

Daria Ovide

Kim Peters

Abigail Perkiss

Lauren Rosenblum

Debbie Wang


My working title for the series is Photos My Boyfriend Takes. I felt I could not address my self, my own sense of self, without confronting various outside versions of me. I wanted to examine myself by examining the ways I relate to others and the ways others relate to me. Worried that I would be performing for myself some cliche of femininity or a masculinized authorial artistic identity, I wanted to have other people engage themselves actively in the production of this project. I had started my first painting by just sitting down in front of a mirror and painting, which made me very anxious. This first painting was Lessons from Gradisca, which is the only self-portrait I did from observation. Again, interested in including other "people" in my work, I knew that I wanted to include Gradisca, a character in Fellini's autobiographical film Amarcord. Since I needed a different source of multiple images of myself to have material to paint, I decided to ask my boyfriend to take a series of photos of me.

By painting his photos of me I become my own boyfriend, my own surrogate lover, my own beloved. I address this kind of transformation most directly in my painting, The Origin of Painting, in which I remake the classical image of the Maid of Corinth tracing the shadow of her lover to remember him while he is away. In one way we preserve (but reverse) the original roles: my boyfriend takes an image of me, his lover. But from that photo, I make my own image of myself recording my own image. In my painting I trace my own shadow, I become my own lover who wants to preserve her own image against loss and change. Interestingly, the artistic gesture itself is weak; my hands in the moment of making me aren't fully elaborated. The shadow (my absence) is clear, but I am still struggling to represent my own possible absence. I can't even see my whole shadow, comprehending fullness of my absence.

For Kissyface I used a photo where the flash is so severe that it makes my face appear white. The flash on my face seems to act as a kind of make-up. I am painting my face (literally), painting this white, delicate, classical feminine complexion (I even made my cheek bones more obvious, made myself look older). But it is not my painting, but his flash that makes my face white. Thus it is his presence that applies this cosmetic, which helps to assert and remind us of our gender roles.

At some level I also intended my painting style to resemble that of Mark Rothko's - with the large red and orange brushstrokes, and rectangular shapes that appear as walls in the background.

I wanted to do a self-portrait inspired by Botticelli's Birth of Venus. It is an image that I have always found especially beautiful, one which I often imagine myself inhabiting. For my Halloween costume last fall I took an old white t-shirt, traced the image of his Venus and underneath it wrote, ME, Venus, Goddess of Love. I am wearing that T-shirt in the painting/photograph (and I usually do my painting in a similar T-shirt). So we went to Long Sands beach, snapped a roll. I chose a candid shot, where I've turned to hold back my hair from blowing into my face. My image is so utterly unlike Botticelli's version. I am turned in profile so you can see (what I think is) my big, certainly un-divine nose. My eyes are closed, do not invite the viewer to love me, see into me. My expression is not one of ecstasy, but of expectation and controlled anxiety. I think I exaggerated this awkwardness in the painting, made myself much more of an ambivalent Venus than the photo reflected. But while so many of my features seem wrong for the goddess of love (like my large hands, not small or delicate, working to pin back free strands of hair, instead of modestly and expertly covering myself), my long golden hair seemed right, seemed feminine.

In both my Venus painting and in The Photos My Boyfriend Takes (which shares the name of the project) the hair is a really important feature. I am reminded of Michael Fried's article where he writes of Courbet's Woman with a Parrot, "...the wavy spreading tresses in the later work [serves] as one more hyperbolic image both of the painter-beholder's primary implement (that is, of its hairy working tip) and of the activity of that implement at its most inspired." The dark brown-red of my splayed hair turns into the dark comer outlining the edge of the pillow, which reaches down to meet an area of intense, fluttery brushwork. Thu,s as the quiet and deliberate, rather than passive subject, I, or rather my feminine features, become the active artist; the painting turns into a complex mirror, reflects my genuine efforts, my genuine desire to be a working female artist-to be object and subject of desire.

I want to thank you for this opportunity. I have enjoyed my work this summer very much