I start by painting on my own body, to transform myself into a new creature: a blue-ringed octopus, an owl, or a monarch butterfly. Then, alone in my studio, I set my camera on the tripod and pose. Although it’s make-believe, it doesn’t feel like I’m pretending. The emotions of this creature well up inside me. I let my body move in unexpected ways. I am expansive, and I do not constrain myself.
In my life outside the art studio, it is harder to be playful with my appearance. As a woman, I am acutely aware of which facial expressions are acceptable. I am aware of the meanings of different hairstyles. I know what a woman’s clothes say about her. (And I can never quite make mine say something true about me. Getting dressed always feels like pretending.)
I live near the woods and treasure my morning walks there. Among the plants and animals, I am not self-conscious. I am at ease just as I am, part of an interconnected web of life that transcends any social construct. Perhaps that is why I turn to the natural world for inspiration in my work. The creatures that I become are hybrids, both human and non-human. They are beyond gender, and when I inhabit them, I am free.
Learn more about Zoomorphics in Harvard Magazine.