This self-portrait series, NOT MYSELF: A Path to Transcending Trauma, is a symbolic documentary of my personal recovery in adulthood from early childhood traumas. This work, composed of 20 images captured over an 8-year period, chronicles my emotions along my path in pursuit of peace in my life.
The springboard for this series happened at a photography workshop by accidentally creating the first image Perseverance which seemed to me mysterious although a bit disturbing–almost like a nightmare.
Intrigued, I set out on a quest to produce more images that had a similar haunting quality and that sparked an emotion or, possibly, a memory in me.
Fascinated by this study, I noticed in myself a curious sense of comfort as each image allowed emotions to surface—even if only slightly. It became evident that my life’s path—past, present, and, future–and, also, its secrets were unfolding before me with each image I produced.
Methods and Influences
In making this work I used historical and contemporary photographic processes (pinhole camera, Polaroid film, lith printing and inkjet final prints). During the long exposures necessary with a pinhole camera, I moved into and out of the picture in most cases and, in some cases, used multiple poses to produce ghost-like images on a single frame of black-and-white film.
My approach was most notably influenced by Surrealism and German Expressionism, the Japanese philosophy of Wabi Sabi, and literary symbolism and allegory.
Like the Surrealists, I employed other-worldly distortion (super-wide angle Pinhole camera) to produce this series of poetic, slightly-hued, dramatic images (Lith printing) that exhibits the Wabi Sabi qualities of “serene melancholy and spiritual longing”.
Influenced by “perfection in imperfection” from Japanese philosophy, I purposely tore the Polaroid edges or allowed them to disintegrate or accidentally fold over in order to imply the chaos of my early life. To depict some intense situations I occasionally chose to shoot into the light which produced dramatic, but rather ragged images suggestive of the raw emotion intended by the German Expressionists. By using sometimes subtle, sometimes abrupt color shifts throughout the series, I underscore the fluctuations of my emotions at different stages along this path to transformation.
I more often adopted iconic symbolic imagery—palm trees, tunnels, and crossing paths. However the imagery in Remembering to Breathe is really a personal symbol—a chest x-ray during which one is required to hold one’s breath.
Although I speak of a path to healing and present the images in a particular order, that path is definitely not linear. Throughout my healing, I revisit the emotions expressed in many of the images—noticing the path doubling back upon itself like a maze. While elusive, my transformation is not eluding me. I am resolute in my search for peace in my life.
While the subject is, indeed, very personal, I chose never to show my face in any of the images. It is my intent that the series would serve as an allegory representing all those who endured trauma in their lives and are seeking to overcome its effects.
Each archival inkjet print (22”x28”) has hand-deckled edges and is intended to be floated on a white ground.
INDIVIDUAL IMAGE STATEMENTS