I crossed paths with the subject of this painting, Amarra, in September 2012. We were both at an event where I was displaying some art. Even though we didn’t really talk, we became Facebook and Instagram friends (gotta love social media). After seeing some of the amazing selfies she posts, I had no choice but to ask if I could photograph her. I had the opportunity to speak to Amarra at length before I took her picture. She completely opened up, and the depth of our conversation made painting her feel natural and fluid.
All of us have friends who post selfies, but few actually tap into the potential of the selfie as more than just a form of documentation, but as an art form. It’s a self-portrait. It was clear from my conversation with Amarra that she has a natural ability to express her mood, her heritage, even her values, in the way that she presents herself. To have the outside match the inside. When this is combined with body language and environment, you can end up with a really dynamic image of a person.
So what I’m really trying to say, is that she showed up in this kick-ass outfit, gave me this powerful pose, and that is a huge part of why this painting turned out the way it did.
Check out the gallery for pictures of the process and detail shots.
Having painted the last subject, I think about how transformative this process has been. I came into this undertaking barely 26 years old, a new mother, with no established “career,” and just having earned a degree in teaching, not painting.
Listening to all these women has been one of the most special parts of this project. We could skip the small talk and go straight to the real stuff. All of them are so unique, and with each one, there was something, a quality of hers, a particular thing that she said or way that she said it, that has resonated with me. With each painting, I was able to see some part of myself more clearly, by connecting to and reflecting the woman that I was painting. I think we all can sometimes feel that whoever we are, however we are, isn’t good enough. This healing kind of thing happened while working on this project – in recognizing the love and respect I have for each of these women, I found that I could also love and accept myself a little more.
Thank you to all who have participated in this with me! You rock.
There is one painting (not a portrait) left to complete this series. Stay tuned.