Discuss your motivation for exploring a personal identity project
I thought of my identity as the things I did and felt when I made the project. Since I only had eight pictures, I decided to represent broad aspects of my identity with smaller, specific images. I thought it would be interesting to see how people would react to symbols and images that held a lot of meaning to me but not to them, such as hummingbirds or the Orion constellation. I also thought that, by putting these symbols on my face, I would show that they are in fact me.
What was the biggest challenge you encountered during this process?
It took me a while to figure out how I wanted to do the project. The first three weeks after Jenny assigned it I came into class with pictures I didn't like or with nothing at all, but Jenny was very understanding. In addition to cleaning computer screens, rearranging photo books, and sorting out forgotten items from the chaos corner, Jenny asked me to sketch some of the ideas I had. I tried to recreate one of the sketches, and even though the picture turned out very different from what I had imagined, I was able to see the direction I wanted to go in.
What did you enjoy most about this process?
Making the props that went onto myself and setting up the lighting or background in my bedroom was enjoyable for me. The picture of me as a piñata, for example, took me about five hours. Cutting the tissue paper and gluing it on; duct taping a bed sheet to the ceiling, and balancing desk lamps on my windowsill to get the right lighting. Sometimes I needed an extra pair of hands or some guidance, so I would ask my dad for help. Once he'd made sense of his daughter's paper/hair/glass covered face, he showed a strong but subtle support and creative approval that felt very rewarding and re-energizing.
Can you talk about a few of the photos you took and expand upon what you were trying to convey?
The photo with the broken glass hanging from my mouth is about silence, particularly stoic silence. It's been almost a year since I made this project, and I think I've changed since, but I used to keep almost all negative thoughts and feelings to myself. I've always been a strong person, and I used to think that part of being strong was to never complain. So, if something was hurting me, I wouldn't say anything. Only I would know the words I wasn't saying.
Over the past two years my hair has changed quite a bit. It was past my waist sophomore year, and I ended senior year with a buzz cut (though I did it with scissors). I am still not sure why, but I know cutting my hair is an important part of my identity.
Is there anything else you'd like to add about the project, your work, subjects, or the program?
I would like to thank Jenny Rosenberg for being such an amazing photography teacher and person. It was in her class that I realized photography is what I want to do.