The assignment was simple – make a self-portrait – no other restrictions or rules. Most of my classmates groaned, but I got excited!
All art reveals something about the artist who made it. We spend time debating and critiquing art, because good art says something! And self portraits expose the artist in a way that no other art form can – it’s not just your art that’s on display, it’s also you!
If you want to get in really deep, you could say that every piece of art an artist makes is in reality a self-portrait…
I was a beginning photo student with no lighting equipment and not much in the way of lens choices – so I had some limitations – but I could see in my head what I wanted to do, and I knew just how I’d do it! I had a vanity in my bedroom, with full makeup lights, and I set up my camera on my tiny tripod off to one side, and I sat on my little stool and posed, tripping the shutter with a borrowed cable release. After processing the film, and making proof sheets, one frame jumped out at me – the one where I cut the top of my head off, and you couldn’t even see my eyes. What kind of a self-portrait was that, if you couldn’t even see my eyes? But it was the frame that spoke to me, so I printed it, and matted it, and ended up getting an A on the assignment.
Bottom line, there are no rules with self-portraits. That one frame said more about me than any of the rest. I won’t tell you what it says about me – that’s for you to decide, as the viewer – but it definitely speaks volumes about who I was as a person and as an artist at that point in my life. In other words, it’s a true self-portrait. Who needs eyes anyway?