A Certain Kind of Woman
There is immense pressure on women to “perform” for the public. Whether this is the feeling that we must be “presentable” when we leave the house each day, or when we tailor our personalities in public in an attempt to be more socially amenable. There is an intense weariness that has consumed me after years of putting on disguises each day, trying to make myself perfect, likeable. I learned how to perform my feminine identity, and now I’m learning how to disassemble it, take it apart and see the bones underneath. I’ve learned how powerful my feminine identity is in its imperfectness, but also how incredibly fragile it is as well.
As a young girl, I was given many instructions on how a woman should act and spent my life in the well-intentioned disguises taught to me by my mother. I concealed much of my introverted personality by making sure I always appeared happy and complacent the way I was taught a woman should always behave. I gladly accepted these parameters in hopes that I would be desirable to society, and in turn happier within myself. My mother’s influence is paramount to my understanding of feminine identity; her impact is intertwined into each image in both subtle and prominent ways.
Utilizing self-portraiture, I am constantly experiencing a “hall of mirrors” effect where it is difficult to distinguish between truth and illusion, as I am both subject and maker. I am a complicated construct of both the rejection and acceptance of society’s definition of femininity. [RS1] I am confronting the disguises that have become a part of my feminine identity while exposing and scrutinizing my own secrets. Working alone, I experience a powerful reclamation of power. I confront the viewer, the camera, and ultimately myself in an attempt to uncover and assert my inner identity underneath years of impersonations.
Hidden behind expected social roles, our inner identity can become lost. Through my work, I explore what happens when our masks become so convincing that we no longer recognize ourselves.
The Fragility of Home
The relationship between mother and daughter isn’t an easy one to grasp. I’m an only child of divorced parents where I spent the majority of my formative years living with my mother. When you’re an only child without many friends, your mother becomes a guiding force in your life. But what happens when your mother suddenly becomes human, and not the perfect idea you once thought she was?
My mother encapsulates a profound sense of home in my life. As I have grown older, our relationship has morphed and changed in unexpected ways, but the sense of home has remained the same. What I have come to realize is that the relationships we hold dear to us are very delicate. They can be broken with merely a few words, and slowly these people can become strangers to us if we’re not careful.
In this series, I am exploring the wounds present between mother and daughter, both the ones that heal and the ones that remain. My images employ the direct gaze of my mother to address the tension that is still present between us. This series has brought me closer to my mother in ways I hadn’t expected as an adult woman, ways I’m not sure I was prepared for. There is intimacy in this series between her and I that is both trusting and unnerving. She is weary of the camera, sometimes looking at me with trusting eyes, and simultaneously nervous of what the camera may show to me that she cannot tell me herself. This series chronicles the journey mothers and daughters take together, and the fragile sense of intimacy that comes and goes as we both enter different stages of our lives.