Sunday, April 8, 2012

Fighting the Feathers: The Making of Three Self Portraits.

I'm fighting feathers-they sting my skin and my heart--they come from me, always there, riding on my back or settling in my lungs. The feathers I shed may be be collected in pillows for heads dreaming of stories about girls with wings, but always more return. These feathers, this sadness-- tattooed on flesh or growing from bone-always there is more, to replace the ones I loose, or giveaway.

"A winged un-doing...a shedding...or a becoming..."-Eliza Bishop

My friend Eliza spoke of the third portrait as a "winged un-doing...a shedding...or a becoming..." for a woman who only spent a few hours with me on a train from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia, she knows me so well. With photography, it is what I am. I can do it whenever I need to--it is there for me whenever I need it. I know I wrote I wanted to be a writer--and I am--what is this thing I am doing right now? Writing. Photography though--it is there, it is here, it is me.
The last few weeks I have been really sad--which is sort of an understatement. I have been doing everything I can think of to help battle this malaise--spend time with friends; get exercise; read; watch a lot of Doctor Who--but it is hard to fight the sad when it is determined to stay.

Last night, after a disappointing attempt at trying to finish a lace shawl I have been knitting for several months--I started looking at the photography of Katie West. She is a self portrait artist who also has a day job that really has not a lot to do with her photography. She is a beautiful subject, and knows how to be in front of a camera as well as behind it. I find her work to be something I often go back to when I am feeling inward, which is strange and wonderful to me because she creates mainly nude self-portraiture. When I find myself the subject of my own work, I tend to rely on external factors like props or costuming even though what I am trying to convey is something also inward. I am certainly no model; sometimes I just have no one to take photographs of, so it ends up being me. Even though Katie West's work is different from mine--looking at it inspired me to take some self portraits--I believe that is what art is supposed to do at times--so thank you, Katie West.

I came up with a few images last night I was mildly happy with. I put on my owl costume I made a couple of years ago. I have been reading a book that speaks a lot about hauntings and unnatural or supernatural things being in some very mundane places. I don't really want to say, I was feeling "this" so "this" is what the photograph "means". Suffice it to say, I have been sad, lonely and disoriented--I think those would be fitting photo tags.

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