Eastern Michigan University’s celebration of Women’s History Month continues, and the next empowering event, “The Looking Glass Self Art Exhibition,” is a gallery of self-portraits crafted by women to define self-identity, and evaluate the true nature of perspective.
The artwork is a series of realistic paintings and drawings of head and shoulder self-portraits, in varying mediums. Some of the artists are art students and some are pursuing other degree backgrounds, but it is mostly anonymous.
”Some of these women are recovering or sober alcoholics, some are recovering drug abusers, some are sexual violence survivors, some are wives and mothers, while others are youths or EMU students,” Felicity Baker, the exhibit’s coordinator and organizer, said.
The visual imagery conveys the message to not to take things at face value. Charles Horton Cooley coined the “looking glass” concept; “I am not who I think I am, I am not who you think I am, I am who you think I am,” with the intention to encourage the viewer to break socially constructed prejudices and boundaries when attempting to understand someone’s true identity.
“A person’s race, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, physical features or even artistic abilities only shows a portion of who they are,” Baker said, driving home the fact that like a face, the artwork is as much a personal representation as it is a personal interpretation.
Demonstrating diversity among perspective, the paintings reflect upon our own individual understanding of the human experience. Feminine power is personified as each painted woman “is completely unique and simultaneously part of the female collective,” Baker said.
The exhibit’s purpose is for women to interpret their own identity, and for the viewers to see and evaluate what is being conveyed through their own eyes. One cannot know for sure what inspired the artist’s rendition of themselves, in the same way that one cannot always tell who a person truly is by simply looking at them.
“The beauty of this is that our individual sum and substance will always be far more than what a drawing or painting could portray, so we are breaking down barriers of arbitrary categorization by showing how limited they actually are,” Baker said.
The event will be Monday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in room 330 of the Student Center, and as Baker puts it “… is an opportunity for women to see beyond our physical and cultural attributes, and to instead accept and appreciate each other a unit of individual parts, and start to see ourselves collectively as human.”
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