e martë, 3 korrik 2007
Showcase: Melissa Herndon
Melissa's work deals with issues pertaining to the traditional portrait and and also to women. Her statement below summarizes her motives and concept far better than I could attempt to. Melissa can be found here.
My thesis investigates the traditions of portraiture in the American family as well as throughout art history, and the role women play in art specifically through painting and photography. I am challenging some ideas of formal and traditional portraiture, while using traditional and formal techniques inherent in painting and photography.
Some of these techniques include taking the subject into an environment, similar to the idea of a studio, where the focus is solely on the person. I also use the 4x5 view camera to photograph these portraits to allow for more of a study and concentration on the individual. Each photograph has the woman standing in the center of the frame looking at the camera, which is representative of traditional portraiture in painting and photography.
Despite the formal and traditional qualities, my images do differ from styles of portraiture used through history. Photographic portraits from the mid-1800s to the late 1800s consisted of the privileged going to a photo studio, where they would stare blankly at the camera trying not to show any emotion or expression. These photographs do not seem natural nor do most images seen through traditional American family portraiture. In these images, people are posed and placed next to each other, dressed their best, and either being very stern or extremely happy, depending on the time period. These photos are not genuine nor do they portray the people in the images in an honest way; yet, most of Americans choose to document themselves in this manner to look back on for years to come. I challenged the idea of the American family portrait by having each female family member have her own portrait, and allowing her expression.
The women in my family have played an important role as to who I am today.
This series concentrates on the women in my family and how they choose to present themselves in front of others and the camera. I believe that from young girls to older women, women feel they have to be constantly choosing who they are going to be or represent at any given moment. My images are about female identity and how every woman is an individual. Despite using a medium that consistently exploits them, these images are an attempt at showing that a woman does not have to be represented in a stereotypical way based on limited cultural ideas that define women.