Peach Pit

I have always believed there is infinite beauty in tenderness. Like people crying in public places or verbalizing sentiments that cannot sustain repression. This short film, “Peach Pit” is the scenic lookout to a transitioning moment in my life with the intention of merging my vulnerability and self-love. The internet is a place for showcasing what is elating or varnished with accomplishments. My aim was to convey a sense of realism that exists within an emotionally fractured person by demonstrating my internal secrets and softness. I was interested in exploring themes of progression, rebirth, and longing. I wanted to create a film that would be specifically identifiable to millennials in a personal evolution. Inspiration was drawn from John Mortara, relocation, and a desperation to unveil candid emotions. This film is the exploration of autonomy and unfiltered internal experience.

I purposefully decided to shoot “Peach Pit” on 8mm film, constructing an ethereal continuous stream of double exposures. This was intended to be self-reflective of the nonstop motion of the mind, while simultaneously portraying the romanticization of chaos. My aim for this film was to visualize isolation, honesty, and rawness by forcing myself to practice two artforms I had never truly touched. Incorporating film and poetry produced a space where there was no boundary between reality and my personal truth. There was an intricate process in releasing the qualities of myself that I’ve assembled over time; this was vital to uncover what I was tethering to nostalgia.

 

 

 

A Currency of Their Own

In my wallet, there are only imprinted legacies of dead white men. Every coin I’ve ever exchanged or found has reminded me that I’ve never possessed a relic of spare change embodying a woman. What would it look like if females were predominately featured on American currency? Women are akin to precious metals, which was my chief inspiration to create females on the faces of coins. Both women and spare change are taken for granted, despite their unwavering value and strength. This photo collection is the contrast between a feminine softness and an understated powerful disposition.

The people we choose to emboss onto a coin is a reflection of who our country heralds. Those are the heroes, moral leaders and political sculptors. The lack of female representation on currency implies that women are not as vital or pivotal to the country’s development, in both the private and public spheres. “A Currency of Their Own” expresses the juxtaposition of reality by capturing the majority of the population that is neglected from representation on US coins. This ultimately shapes female perspective to believe that we are exempt from politics, leadership and American legacy.

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Our Lady of Forgiveness

When I was fourteen, I received a death threat through a MySpace message from a disgruntled eighth grade girl. This was my first introduction to “girl hate.” The hostility, anxiety, and sheer terror that resulted from this message created an internalized hatred for women within me that would take me years to overcome. My first experience with girl hate was so severe that my bitterness created loathing for particular groups of women. Recently, it has occurred to me that my hatred was dormant within my internal thoughts. With this realization, came an understanding of the cyclical nature of hatred and the severe impacts it has on an individual’s future relationships, actions, and outlook. This photo series “Our Lady of Forgiveness” is the visual depiction of a formal apology for every time I’ve put another female down, as well as a piece to show my forgiveness to those who have inflicted pain on me.

Girl hate stems from fear, internalized competition, and a quest for individuality. Within this voyage for individuality, we distinguish women as either, a “bitch,” “slut,” and “bimbo” or a woman of class known as “the girl next door.” This homogenizing of the female gender into these two groups is misogynistic as well as sexist. Internalized competition is born out of learned behavior from the media and other men and women; it rears its head over love interests, friendships, and beauty standards rooted in jealousy and insecurity. All of these elements lead to negative thoughts, gossip, tearing other girls down and potential violence against others or oneself.

I’ve judged, stereotyped, and hurt women; women I’ve seen walking down the street and ones I had known from childhood. And it is something I regret immensely. I deeply apologize for perpetuating girl hate and wish I could retract all the agony I’ve caused. Girl hate has been a consistent force throughout my life, but has changed in it’s shape and form at different times in my life. It began with superficial comments based on appearance, and grew into romantic ownership complications, and finally manifested into workplace power dynamics. Despite all the hatred I have received, I realize that the only way to escape the ramifications of the cycle is by forgiving those who have caused me harm and changing my mindset moving forward.

“Our Lady of Forgiveness” contains images of girls who empower, comfort, and compliment one another, as well as juxtaposing photos that depict the damaging repercussions of our acerbic words that can result in poisonous thoughts and violent actions. I wanted to express the consequences of talking behind another woman’s back, and how it confirms sexist stereotypes of women as either “bitches” or “goody-goodys.” I purposefully used the female back as a canvas to depict how we absorb each received virulent remark of hatred into our skin. The inspiration for “Our Lady of Forgiveness” is to experience a cathartic release by forgiving those who have given us malice to hold, like a death threat, purposefully vicious comment, or physiological torture. I now can step away from my actions and fully see girl hate for what it is: a system perpetuated by fear, jealousy, internalized misogyny, and the patriarchy. The first step to eliminating girl hate is forgiveness and letting our remorse be seen by those we’ve hurt in return.

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Selfie Centered

I could count the number of photographs I have of myself from the past year on my fingers and toes. From the moment I was seen with my camera, I’ve taken on an assumed role as “the photographer.” This title allows the people around me to have beautifully crafted images from a single moment in their life, but leaves a gap in time for myself. Recently, I realized that I was suppressing myself beneath this invisible border of subject and artist. In reality, I am a work of art myself and can test my abilities as an artist and photographer by capturing the essence of portraits of women in agony and isolation.

This series, “Selfie Centered” was inspired by feminine self love, the loneliness of womanhood, and a lack of photographs of myself. I was heavily influenced by visions of Audrey Wollen, Tamara de Lempicka, and Sylvia Plath; their work chips at the patriarchal wall through a resistance based on the power of silence found within particular art forms. My personal intention was to move past the sexualization of the body and convey the same emotions of fear, ennui, desire, restlessness, and coyness that can be found within the original paintings. This is a historically rich photo collection that incorporates Impressionism, Art Deco, Realism, and Neo Classicism paintings done by women that demonstrate the pains of being a female.

The goal of this photo series, “Selfie Centered,” is to demonstrate my own self empowerment, depict the female condition, and promote women artists from a plethora of art movements who have been oppressed by patriarchal standards. These images depict the internalized agony and despair of being a woman. There is a dysphoria that is particular to women: the isolation and heartbreak of vulnerability. A large aspect of being a female is based around a fear of violence, boredom from forced gender roles, and the isolation that results from both systems. The chief reason for my choice to use original paintings by women was to keep the power within the hands of women so their stories would be able to viewed, told, and perpetually shared. These reinterpreted pieces are meant to give power to historical female painters by joining past acts of defiance with contemporary resistance. The mere act of being a woman artist is an act of rebellion since it was and still is male dominated. These handpicked pieces take the rebellion one step further by illustrating the stories of women in isolation through their own art.

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“Young Girl Fixing Her Hair” by Sophie Gengembre Anderson

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“Lady at her Toilette” by Berthe Morisot

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“The Sleeper” by Tamara de Lempicka

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“Katyusha” by Zinaida Serebriakova

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“The Bather” by Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun

Exiting Teenage Purgatory

My teenage experience was coated in pink, period blood, and purity; I applied strawberry Lip Smackers between dramatic sighs and lived for the thrill of sneaking out to meet my crush. I’ve evolved immensely from ages thirteen to nineteen, but have maintained my adoration for Courtney Love, rose lipstick, and scribbling my inner dialogue in journals. The photo collection “Exiting Teenage Purgatory” is the visualization of my personal experience as a teenage girl on the verge of leaving adolescence and entering my twentieth year. This piece is a farewell letter to my teenage angst and reflects the deconstruction of childhood and feelings of longing and boredom in Suburbia. Through this collection I captured a pure teenage aesthetic through an authentic experience, thus creating environments of comfort, monotony, and desperation.

“Exiting Teenage Purgatory” expresses ennui through popping pink bubblegum, the agony a simple pimple can produce, bridging the gap between childhood and becoming a woman, getting ready with no where to go, the personal privacy of a diary, longing late night on the internet, killing time at the mall, struggling with purity, decompression through technology, sneaking out at 5:00 am, and aching to run away. I was aiming to express the complexities of being a teenage girl and how that’s presented visually and the psychological pressures are rarely explored. This concept of discontent and pining was the main motivation behind the series since these teen years are centered around longing for escape and craving privacy, academic excellence, stable friendships, and individual identity. “Exiting Teenage Purgatory” is a personal account of girlhood and is meant to help transport the viewer into the mind of a teenage girl by creating a sense longing, relatability, and nostalgia. I never thought I would make it through my teen years or come of age and have the ability to declare the strength adolescent females build up and the tremendous amount of pressure they can withstand.

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Cyberspace Diary

I wish I could say what’s on my mind. I type out aggressive responses that I’ll never send and no one will ever see because I quickly delete how I feel. This photo series, “Cyberspace Diary,” explores sentiments that I’d never say out loud and transposes those thoughts into an internet collage setting by dissecting the theme of privacy and personal expression online. My goal was to convey a sense of intimacy with my internal thoughts and to expose a hidden,  yet essential, aspect of my character. I was interested in creating digital collages about decomposing friendships, regret, internal conflict, romantic entanglements, independence, and regret. I wanted to create a series of photographs that would be accessible to young adults transitioning into reality. I drew my inspiration from countless nights scrolling through Tumblr, instant messages from my past loves, and consulting the internet with questions born out of crisis. I wanted to explore what it would be like to project my most personal thoughts onto a Facebook status or unresponded text message.

“Cyberspace Diary” contains mesmerizing images that are juxtaposed by the unpleasant and painful thoughts I have regularly. I decided to use 35mm photographs as the background for each collage to bridge the gap between the film pictures I take and my online persona. I was interested in creating dreamy visuals by melting these film photographs with the geometric impact of social media. Each photograph that was chosen represents a vulnerable or intimate moment in time and is paired accordingly with a sentiment that’s fitting to the emotion I was experiencing. The process of designing these online collages posed issues, but the true struggle was expressing myself and letting go of the fear of voicing my repressed thoughts and emotions.

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Anthropology of a Young Man

The photo collection “Anthropology of a Young Man” dissects masculinity by blending in femininity and softening and reappropriating masculine symbols – by painting select sportswear gold, putting metallic stars where football war paint might otherwise be smeared, and kissing a baseball instead of throwing it. My choice for the use of gold in the photographs was to demonstrate the “golden boy” or American ideal of a man; a guy who thrives in athletics, asserts his manhood, and is conventionally handsome. In a similar way, the stars are meant to represent a patriotic and conforming identity that feed into this outdated vision of masculinity; it’s a reappropriation of football war paint and re-evaluate the definition of strength.

This concept of the well-rounded American boy doesn’t exist and is merely an expired ideal. These photos complicate and unpack the idea of American boyhood through visions of sexual struggle, masculine authority, and an external toughness. The model portrayed in the series is a classical vision of the American man, but defies stereotypes through his gender and sexual identity. I was interested in capturing a 1970s suburban nostalgic feel in the collection to construct a bridge between the classical American male and a modern man. By placing a contemporary model in a sentimental setting of a baseball field, I showed a connection between this golden boy of the 70s and paired it with the sexuality charged undertones of a modern male. I attempted to demonstrate the dissonance between gender ideals and reality by capitalizing on the strict confines of a male during this decade. I found the theme of sexual innocence to be particularly fascinating and wanted to explore that through images like the practice kiss, nudity with the power of a rifle, and the key to the boys’ locker room. These images are pivotal to the collection since they juxtapose orthodox athleticism with softer, intimate feelings. “Anthropology of a Young Man” is meant to deconstruct traditional symbols of masculinity and blur the lines between male and female aesthetics.

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Under Water Pressure

AAt least three times a day, I feel like I’m drowning. I can’t breathe and in those  moments,  I truly understand panic and fear. A flood of  to-do lists  suffocate my mind while my pulse races from the stress. This photo collection “Under Water Pressure” is meant to visualize my personal feelings of anxiety and responsibility as I’m on the verge of exiting teenagehood and entering the autonomy of being an adult.

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I wanted to juxtapose panic and pressure with the ethereal and peaceful images through the serenity and calming aspect of water. This photo collection is meant to express the stress I feel as I’m on the brink of turning twenty years old. I wanted to communicate the five major pressures I struggle with often; the perpetual labor of technology, striving for an unattainable ideal of beauty, thriving in higher education, balancing money, and the strain of an outstanding love life.

 

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I chose to represent the fluctuation of my relationships through a clenched bouquet of roses. The intention behind using the jeweled hand mirror and holographic hairbrush was to demonstrate the purgatory of being caught between girlhood and womanhood and the different definitions of vanity.

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The use of the pink keyboard and computer were to demonstrate my attachment and reliance for technology. Academic pressure and excellence is reflected through books and is highlighted with the chapter titled “Genius” alongside a painting of Mona Lisa.

 

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Lastly, I represented my struggle with money through images of picking up pennies and truly feeling the weight of what’s considered a pointless member of the American currency.

As isolated and unique as I feel, these trials in my life are common among young adults and I wanted to represent the tragedy of the deconstruction of childhood. I was greatly influenced by the feeling and sound of screaming underwater since it cannot be heard above the shore. During this time in my life, I feel as though I have to conceal my emotions to myself. “Under Water Pressure” is not only the representation of the stress of becoming an adult, but also the loneliness of an individual twenty-something year old attempting to figure the balances and scales of life.

 

Forever & Ever: Til Nothing’s Never

At fifteen, I fell in love and they promised to cherish me “forever and ever, til nothing is never” in the most beautiful love letter I have received to date. I truly believed in the concept of forever and that our devotion to another would never fade. Teenage love is an anxious time of longing for escape. In my experience, we wanted to be with one another completely and depart from traditional school, careers, and suburban life. We enveloped ourselves in our relationship and felt the agony and allure of first experiences; we shared our first intimate and personal moments with one another: first fights, first dances, and first kisses. Our actions were brand new and raw which lead us to become attached. We began to identify with this idea of forever as we shared bubble gum, bicycle rides, and memories.

I thought my first love would last forever. It never occurred to me that it’s arduous for individuals to evolve at the same rate together, and almost impossible when you’re a teenager. Despite this, we attempted to overrule natural change with pinky promises and devoted love letters. This theme of unending love is demonstrated through the skeleton of an expired lover. It was pivotal for this project to be authentic, since this is my personal experience and it still conjures up a wave of emotions when I hear my first love’s name or a distant association to them. In order to create a pure collection of photographs, I wanted to reflect exactly what we did together, from having picnics in cemeteries to jumping freight trains and reading poetry in the Truckee River. I still love them, it’s just lost all of it’s importance and form. So, I suppose I adore them in another way because they have become something akin to myth. That’s why I chose to represent them through a human skeleton to show how love feels perpetual when you’re a teenager.

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Underneath It All

“Underneath It All” derails the traditional roles of gender and outdated conventions of identity reliant upon biological sexuality. The collection highlights the relationship between gender identity and underwear  while demonstrating that gender can be misconstrued by appearance. These pictures reveal that there is more to undergarments than Victoria’s Secret and Hanes – that in fact, underwear can be used to showcase gender as a spectrum by featuring people who identify outside the heterosexual male-female binary. I want to pose a realistic and empowering alternative to the troubling elements of heteronormativity, hypersexuality, and body shaming in popular media’s representations of undergarments.

I created an environmental portrait style setting to form an intimate space between the model and the viewer. I intentionally asked the models to have bare skin in their portraits to showcase their vulnerability. This photo collection thus gives us a window into personal identification through clothing. These are the peers of my genderation, and the aim of this collection is to demonstrate the complexities of gender and identity to those who believe in concrete labels of “woman” and “man” exclusively.

I’m tired of sexy underwear being exclusively for cis-gendered white men and women. There is a greater depth to underwear identity than what Fruit of the Loom advertisements portray. The spectrum is vast and complex. I want to show that binding tops, red thongs, and boxer briefs are not reserved to one gender. Ultimately, I took these portraits to create a safe space for those who do not identify with this status quo and to showcase these identities through the powerful silence of a still image.

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