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 new 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.
The Zoomorphics series will be on display at the Griffin Museum's WinCAM gallery, September 28-November 5, 2020, at 32 Swanton St. in Winchester, MA. Visit WinCAM's website for hours.
All photographs are printed at 16" on the short side, 21" on the long side, using archival inks on Canson Infinity Baryta Prestige archival paper.