Alter Ego July 31 - August 31, 2013
Opening Reception: August 2
Self-portraiture is often used to explore and manipulate identity. There is a performative aspect to this genre. By turning the camera on oneself the photographer is brought out from behind their lens, and able to choose how they would like to the world to see them. The photographer invites judgment and critique on not only their artistic message, but also their appearance and demeanor. For this exhibition, The Kiernan Gallery seeks self-portraits that provide insight into the “second self” that appears when artist becomes subject.
About the Juror:
Stephen Sheffield, a native of the Boston area, is an alumnus of Cornell University, where he obtained a BFA in painting and photography. He received his MFA in photography from the California College of the Arts, in Oakland/San Francisco, studying under Larry Sultan and Jean Finley.
His photographs, often self-portraits depict both everyday and unusual events, all framed by his unique, and occasionally dark, sense of humor. His masterful storytelling, use of traditional silver, alternative processes, mural printing, and large-scale photo assemblage bring to his work a unique and cinematic mood.
Stephen has exhibited nationally for over 20 years, and has a number of large and small-scale commissions in, Boston, Cambridge and Brooklyn NY. He has worked out of his studio in Boston’s Fort Point for over 18 years. Stephen is represented locally by the Panopticon gallery, and runs the advanced black and white silver photography major at the New England School of Photography in Boston.
I first became interested in the self-portrait as a painting major at Cornell University in the early 1980s. It was not until I became enamored with photography that I truly explored the genre fully. Now it has become an unavoidable part of much of my work. The reasons for self-portraiture are numerous, but it is an inevitable part of most—if not all—artists' journeys. The works presented to me to curate were many and varied! Very close to 600 images to sift through and agonize over. The thing about self-portraiture is that it is often very deeply and emotionally important to the artist. Self-exploration and self-documentation is often a high form of therapy, whether the artist wants this or not, and is necessary and informative to the artist exploring his or her “self.” My knowledge of this process made curating this very difficult.
Curating this show was exhilarating, frustrating, and made me want to get back to my own work. My choices were based on a number of criteria (in no particular order): image quality, personal bias, how the work would fit together as a “show” on the wall and online, and ideas and challenges to the idea of self-portraiture. As an educator, I also cannot help but to try to encourage artists that I think are “on to something.”
I have tried to show artists thinking, challenging, “working,” and working hard.