I've been taking a class this spring with Tom McInvaille, a talented local photographer with a heartening blend of perspective, humor, and art history knowledge. Our final project for Tom's class is a self-portrait triptych, with a twist. The idea is to make a self-portrait group that is metaphorical, rather than literal. So not images of me, or of things I like, etc., but rather images of objects that are about something more than the objects themselves... something that reflects my Self. A stiff assignment, one worth digging into... Tom excels at devising such challenges.
I have difficulty with vague conceptual assignments, but they help open up my brain and stir things around. After struggling with more socially acceptable material, I returned to a warehouse shoot I did a few weeks back and found some provoking grist for the self-portrait mill. I asked, "Why am I drawn to these images so strongly? What of myself do I see there?" And I find that when I get beyond the objects - the disgusting toilet, the misplaced tire, the broken boards - there is so much to love. Organization amidst chaos. Detailed craftsmanship, built to stand the test of time. Subtle, changing light and shadow, with each turn or step or change in perspective. And above all, process of finding peace and perfection in the unlikeliest places. I see all these things in myself, and it brings great comfort to know they are out there, in everything, should only I look and see.