The Long Way Home


Anonymous
March 25, 2012, 10:38 AM
Filed under: Art Gallery | Tags: , ,

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Why do you hide your face in your portraits? This is something people have asked me a lot lately, something that is hard for me to answer, but I’ll work out the demons here (And while women may think it, it’s only men who have asked it).

They make for more interesting stories. When I began doing photography, the photos from other artists that I found most interesting were un-obvious portraits, where a person is not looking directly into the camera. It made me want to explore all the ways photos tell stories. My photos have to have movement and place, and I like working with the constraints of still image. Acknowledgement of the camera by the subject is taking away the mystery of the photograph, and I want that mystery.

It lends some privacy in social media. When I began posting self-portraits to the Internet, I chose ones where people couldn’t see my face for physical and emotional safety. I have many self-portraits where I’m showing my face,  but those rarely make it to the Web – a gift of solitude for myself in an age of too much information.

I’m not getting any younger. I marvel and freak out over getting older.  I want to be one of those women who embrace their wrinkles, grays and all,  but I’m a little terrified – even more so now that my mother didn’t make it to 60. I am self-conscious about the dark circles under my eyes from insomnia and allergies, something I inherited from my mother. Along with her vanity, perhaps? All reminders not so much of beauty fading, but my mortality.

The irony is that hiding my face in self-portraits started as a way to make me feel less self-conscious and now I am more self-conscious for not revealing it. I’m taking this as an opportunity to re-examine my work and see other worlds I can explore.

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10 Comments so far
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What an interesting perspective on the issue of showing/not showing one’s face. I really can relate to the aging thing. My mother died young too, and it really does affect your idea of what constitutes “old.”

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Comment by thevintagetraveler

My mother’s premature death really does affect how I view aging. I think about it more than ever now. It feels as if things are more immediate for me, thinking of what I’ll do next (thanks for sharing, lizzie, i appreciate it!).

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Comment by Lisa

I love the second photo. You look other worldly. Your expression is priceless.

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Comment by motherblue212

thanks, kimmy – i took that photo back in october, but then didn’t think much else about the series after that. i’m glad i pulled them from the archives.

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Comment by Lisa

Agree with Becky about loving the text as much as both photos. I totally understand the motif of not revealing your face–its a bit of a weird world and you are generous enough sharing your art and your life the way you do. Many thanks, M

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Comment by Michael Williamson

thanks, michael – i’m glad the text turned out well. i feel as if i’ve been out of touch with writing lately, and now it’s coming back to me (it goes in waves). it’s a fine balance between saying just enough, but not scaring away readers either. those moments are better left in person. the internet is such a strange and amazing place, isn’t it?

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Comment by Lisa

they are both great photos, but I love the text more…have been obsessed lately by subtext and what people say and what they don’t say…beautiful face, either way. even if you hadn’t said anything!

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Comment by Becky

ooh, beck, this makes my day – thank you! i feel as if i’ve been struggling in the writerly department lately, so this gives me a boost. i totally relate to your text/subtext obsession – i think it’s important to think about when using text and image together.

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Comment by Lisa

I love the first photo.

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Comment by Jeff

i’m partial to the second one, but that’s only because it’s not usual for me to show my face. thanks, sweetie!

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Comment by Lisa




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