Over time, artists of varying creative disciplines have originated self-portraits as a way to connect their own experiences to their art and to reflect on culturally relevant experiences. Whether the message is political or personal, influencers such as Frida Kahlo and Vincent Van Gogh have attempted to de-stigmatize artists acting as both creator and subject. They have inspired countless artists to tackle contemporary issues through self-portraiture. Today, the self-portraits of 21 female artists, whose talents span from painting to mixed media to video, have been curated by Indira Cesarine and Coco Dolle of The Untitled Space Gallery in an exhibit entitled SELF REFLECTION.
“Historically women have used self-portraiture as a means to address their own identity in relationship to contemporary society and social constructs. The artists featured in SELF REFLECTION, using their own body as a catalyst, metaphorically regurgitate the stereotypes enforced upon women and address not only their own personal conflicts but psychological and political conflicts of women at large, using their own likeness as a tool for enlightenment. In light of the modern day obsession with the selfie, it is important to turn an eye on the work of contemporary female artists who address self-portraiture, not with self-promotion in mind, but to interrogate contemporary society and the social and political values we grapple with.” -Curator Indira Cesarine
Auto Portrait 3 by Ahn Sun MI
Portrait 1 by Alexa Meade
“SELF REFLECTION is an intersectional approach to issues of “gender, identity, sexuality, body image, censorship, and self-liberation,” says The Untitled Space Gallery, and the artists involve use their own autonomy as a means of addressing “the personal as political via self-reflection and reinvention, tackling conventional notions of female image and taboo.” The exhibit acts both as a means to reflect the expectations put upon the 21st-century female and as a way of reacting to society's transition into the digital world. These artists are seeking to bridge the divide between classic self-portraiture and selfie culture, using multimedia artistry to illustrate that selfies fit within the artistic continuum of reactionary expressionism.
Gold Queen of Compassion by Karen Bystedt
"My external shell of face and body is my instrument/tool and assistant in conveying a certain message, telling a story. Be it drama or comedy alike, exploring existential philosophical or simply very personal ideas and thoughts on the human condition and working from deep down my own emotional pipeline.” – Artist ANGE
3 by Meredith Ostrom
Through varying artistic mediums including but not limited to collage, tea painting, watercolor, wool tapestry weaving, and polaroid photography “SELF REFLECTION presents contemporary female artists that are not merely using their mobile devices to self-promote, but work with self-portraiture as a means to present their own inner dialogue,” says The Untitled Space Gallery.
Self-Portrait #24 by Marie Tomanova
Self-Examination by Leah Schrager
"I think today there are many women using self-portraiture because we are tired of being told by the media, society, and religion etc, who we should be or what we should look like. I think by photographing ourselves we are reclaiming our image and finally controlling how we want to be seen in the world." - Artist Sarah Maple
These artists have used self-portraiture to not only capture themselves under their own conditions but also as a way to react to the different cultural roles that women play in society. They have personified the roles of mothers, wives, lovers, and even sexual objects to poignantly acknowledge cultural stereotypes by relating their art to their own personal experience as women in a patriarchal civilization. And when you look each of these artist's self-portraits as a cohesive collection, it is clear to see that the exhibit itself not only highlights individualized aspects of female self-expression but also celebrates the importance of unifying women’s experiences to promote awareness of women’s oppression on a global scale.
January 2015, Millfields Road by Polly Penrose
“I have worked with my own likeness since the early nude paintings from the 1970's through large naked images of myself done more than 30 years later. I like to explore my body as it changes with time. The recent ongoing series of composite photos titled GRACE DELVING INTO ART shows me interacting/reacting with well-known artworks in galleries and museums all over the world. I am naked, climbing, riding, lying down beside or weaving myself in specific artworks from the history of art. The interactions with the artworks are usually humorous, sometimes poignant and often deal with issues such as sexism, ageism, museum policy and the way we react to art, the nude, performance and even what is art?” – Artist Grace Graupe Pillard
Truer No 12 by Sophia Wallace
This exhibit will be open for viewing from 10am to 6pm through October 8th at The Untitled Space Gallery at 45 Lispenard Street Unit 1W. It includes work from Ahn Sun Mi, Alexa Meade, Andrea Mary Marshall, ANGE, Coco Dolle, Carol-Anne McFarlane, Cornelia Hediger, Grace Graupe-Pillard, Erin M. Riley, Hiba Schahbaz, Indira Cesarine, Karen Bystedt, KESH, Leah Schrager, Marie Tomanova, Meredith Ostrom, Natalie White, Polly Penrose, Rebecca Dayan, Sarah Maple, and Sophia Wallace. For more information about SELF REFLECTION and The Untitled Space Gallery, please visit their website for more information.
Apple by Rebecca Dayan
From The Series by Natalie White
Untitled 1 by Hiba Schahbaz
Photos Courtesy of The Untitled Space Gallery
More from BUST