FINAL // Withheld

Not everything is always as it seems. ‘Withheld’ is an expression of my life long tendencies to withhold my emotions and thoughts within myself - for propriety, necessity, others or even myself.

These images are not a representation of those emotions that I hold within me, but instead are my internal experiences of withholding. Underneath the gauze of a smile, are emotions waiting to release, not as an explosion, but as a held breath, subtle and quiet. There is a duality in all that I have experienced, the black and white - the sad and happy - yet this held breath is the bridge between these two emotions and carries the question - to withhold or not to withhold? As both an expressive yet withheld individual, I present my duality alongside other symbols that carry their own duality - the cherry blossom’s eternal beauty, yet fleeting life; hydrangea's grateful abundance, yet vain opulence; lace’s innocent purity, yet sensual revealment.

It is possible that at this point I’m not ready to let go of the things I withhold - that is a journey yet to be embarked on.

Assignment #10 - Psychological Self Portrait

SELF PORTRAIT // PSYCHOLOGICAL SELF PORTRAIT

My first thought for this assignment is that I've been doing it all semester! To a degree, I feel every self portrait is a psychological self portrait because it speaks to what the photographer is mentally trying to express, be it exactly what they look like or a an emotion or experience.  For me, a psychological self portrait is drawn from inside, an emotion, experience, memory, or dream that you want to express visually through a photograph. It doesn't need the artist's face nor does i need to be easily identifiable as a self portrait, because I think it's most important purpose is to the artist themselves. Does it successfully represent what they were intending to?

I tried something darker initially but it didn't sit right with what I had been doing all semester, not a bad thing, but not what I wanted to capture. Instead, I went back to my neutral wall, playing with comfort and the idea of concealing and revealing.

Assignment #9 - Body Imperfections

SELF PORTRAIT // BODY IMPERFECTIONS

Constellations

I took one of my imperfections that is technically more obvious to the world, yet I inherently ignore - my face. Because I'm not staring at a mirror all day, the mental vision of my own face does not ever fit the exact image of what it is, resulting in my own shock and dismay when I see my flaws that I don't always imagine to be there. I chose therefore to make my faults into stars, into constellations that make up the universe of who I am.

READING // ORLAN from On the Edge and Over

Reading about Orlan was irritating because all her plastic surgery as an "art" is so strange and disturbing. It was hard to separate the pain I could only imagine each "performance" to be. I did somewhat admire her acknowledgement that her art is not for some greater bigger meaning, but an exploration of her own identity, "Indeed, she is so busy meeting with the press, pursuing her art activities, and making money any way she can that she has little time for the soulful contemplation of celestial goals."

Assignment #8 - The Yellow Wallpaper

SELF PORTRAIT // THE YELLOW WALLPAPER

READING // The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

After a while, I needed to put my English major hat back on :) This was definitely an interesting reading but also extremely disturbing. When you think crazy, it usually hits you immediately/is immediately evident, but to read the first person account of someone's descent into madness is frightening. As an artist and woman, the idea of being prevented from any sort of mental stimulation is a little scary.

Essentially she is trapped by the wallpaper but her obsession of it also sets her free. I think in the beginning the woman in the wall is a representation of the narrator's mental stimulation but then she eventually becomes that very woman, saying "I am finally free" etc. so after ripping away the stifling wallpaper she can finally be free. The wallpaper was a symbol of her constraint but also the reason she was able to break free from being stifled. (Ironically, to the outside world and her husband, her "freedom" seems like madness - how many general people feel that way about artists?)

Assignment #7 - OPEN

SELF-PORTRAIT // OPEN

"Tied Blind"

Sometimes we blind ourselves with our own constructions. Frail ideas with holes and inconsistencies - but once wrapped up in our thoughts enough - can blind us to the light we yearn for.

I was inspired by the beautiful light streaming in today. It was delicate yet warm. I fell asleep briefly on the the floor where the sunlight fell and the heat warmed the carpet.

Assignment #6 - No Face/Back of Head

SELF PORTRAIT // Back of the Head & No Face

The prompt threw me off ever so slightly because I already do both of these things! I found myself thinking too much and ending up with ideas that actually involved my face - oh the irony.

After a long week of frustrating neck pains, I conveyed my pain the only way I know how - silently and withdrawn.

Midterm // This Is Me

This is me - at least the parts that I allow you to see. At times, only the parts I allow myself to see. These are the parts of myself that I am comfortable with and determine worthy of displaying to the world. There are only fragments and they represent fragments of myself - my grasp for something more, my awareness of self, and my silent insecurities. The images also reflect my recent creative feelings as well. I have tried to wipe clean my mind and start from a clean level in an attempt to work my way upward. Especially with outside forces bringing me down in the last couple months, it has been difficult yet therapeutic to create these images.

I am happy and see the world in a brighter light, but the door is still closed on how I feel about myself personally. Maybe by the end of this project I will open up and begin to feel comfortable with showing the parts of myself I currently hide.

Assignment #5 - Photobooth

SELF-PORTRAIT // PHOTOBOOTH

This was my first time in a chemical photo booth and the ACE Hotel was a beautiful place to start. The credit card option is dangerous however, because I kept swiping without a care in the world.

I was fortunate enough to bring a friend who helped me avoid feeling self-conscious about all our random actions inside the booth --- especially because we spent a good hour or so monopolizing the booth. Regardless we had fun experimenting and playing around with timing and concepts.

Will be sure to visit the ones in San Francisco soon!

Assignment #4 - Abandoned

READING // "Miru Kim Takes Pictures"

I wonder why people are attracted to abandoned places? What is their appeal? The history? The idea that the place was once so inhabited and used and in what seems to be a second, abandoned for the rest of time. I wonder why many abandoned places are left so abandoned - why are they not torn down and refurbished?

I personally prefer clean environments. Clean, white, simple. Miru Kim's images are captivating, but all I could think about was the sanitation of wandering sewers and catacombs in the nude... no bueno for me.

SELF PORTRAIT // ABANDONED

This is a moment of calm and quiet - a moment of stillness and self-reflection. When you stop for just a moment to give thanks for the morning light, smell the freshness of your bedding, and prepare your mind and body for the day ahead.

Abandon the concerns for just a moment and embrace the present moment.

I unknowingly created something for my final thesis, yay! I'm so proud of this image.

Assignment #3 - Awareness

READING // "On Self Portrayal"

"Contrast...you will desire to communicate...the sense of respect or awe of the self"

Just some words that stood out to me in this reading.

SELF PORTRAIT // SELF AWARENESS

The act of creating a self portrait makes me painfully aware of myself, primarily physically. Here I am, immediately confronted with an image of myself. To be honest, I feel rather aware of myself internally. I may not understand every up and down that comes my way, but I do understand when they occur and the process I need to get through them. What I seem to be less aware of is my physical self. I have strived all my life to match the physical to the image in my head. It is a struggle and I realize it every time I press the shutter.

Assignment #2 - Role Playing

SELF PORTRAIT // ROLE PLAYING - To Thine Own Selves Be True

Stitched - September 2015

I had a very rough week starting out. After hearing distressing news about Ama and seeing her condition in person, I wasn't in a state that promoted any creativity. I couldn't focus on anything but her health and well-being. Additionally, other things like missing Chris and worrying about friends did not put me in a good mood - and for me - not in a mood to create anything at all. For the first time in a long time, I felt pure sadness and anxiety - and not for myself. I was in need of a good long cry and cathartic meditation.

On the topic of role-playing, I realized how large my role as the "happy friend" is. I don't believe my role is fake at all - I truly am a happy person and don't want my life to be clouded by minor bumps in the road - but as intensely as I feel the happy, I intensely feel the sad. I am often the one who picks herself up immediately in order to move forward instead of dwelling on the past.

I have always enjoyed working with my hands as well so the resulting idea came to my mind one morning as I was trying to recharge myself. It was something I felt I needed to do. An attempt to my happy self back together in a way.

Assignment #1 - Photographs

CLASS // Favorite self portrait of you and another artist

  From FACES on January 4, 2015 - a rather off day for me, but one of my favorites because of how spontaneous and comfortable I was when taking the photograph. My mood is reflected by the black and white and slight offset of the frame. Taken in my grandfather's home in Taipei, Taiwan.

 From FACES on January 4, 2015 - a rather off day for me, but one of my favorites because of how spontaneous and comfortable I was when taking the photograph. My mood is reflected by the black and white and slight offset of the frame. Taken in my grandfather's home in Taipei, Taiwan.

 Girl in Tornado by Alexis Mire - A photographer I found on Flickr. This is from her earlier work which was experimental and largely based on school assignments. She had a series based on shooting a creative self portrait every day and she came up with a lot of unique imagery purely from experimentation.  This image is one of my favorites of the simplicity and movement. She must have shot hundreds before getting exactly this. Her perseverance and willingness to do practically anything to get her shot is very inspiring.

Girl in Tornado by Alexis Mire - A photographer I found on Flickr. This is from her earlier work which was experimental and largely based on school assignments. She had a series based on shooting a creative self portrait every day and she came up with a lot of unique imagery purely from experimentation.

This image is one of my favorites of the simplicity and movement. She must have shot hundreds before getting exactly this. Her perseverance and willingness to do practically anything to get her shot is very inspiring.

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SELF PORTRAIT // OPEN

Grasp - September 2015

What were the main challenges in making this image?

I was battling the light, literally chasing it as the clouds came in and out of the sunlight through the blinds in this room. This is in one of my favorite rooms because the windows act as a huge softbox that bathes in the room in a soft and even light.

Did you have any technical difficulties?

After doing a small variety of self portraits over the year, I have the general set up figured out. I continue to struggle with the best way to get overhead shots with the tripod I have - I often need to remove a leg or two in post.

Would you do anything differently next time?

I'm actually really happy with what I accomplished here. One of those times where the first couple shots really captures what you want and the ones later on just don't do it for you. If I can manage to set up the frame farther away, I'd like to incorporate more of my face in the future.

Who Am I?

I consider myself a generally happy person — not to say that I haven`t gone through my share of struggles — but I think overall, I am a very lucky person for what I have and have been able to experience throughout my life. However, I do feel that I`m always striving for more, reaching out for something — trying to better myself both mentally and physically. My perception of my physical appearance has effected much of the way I`ve grown up and looked at life. If anything, my biggest struggle in life has been my own appearance and addressing my own imperfections is far more difficult for me than the imperfections of everything else. I prefer to deal with my imperfections privately, controlling what other see, so this class will be a challenge for me to step out of this controlled comfort zone into exposing those flaws.

Letting go of control is a very scary thing for someone who often needs a sense of control in her world. But it's important to realize that very few things in life are controllable and it is in the embracing of chaos that we often find peace.