A woman's body is a map of her life's journey.
Puberty and pregnancy, childbirth and fatigue, injuries and surgeries, working and aging: these and more inscribe themselves into her flesh, redefine her contours, weigh her down, lift her up.
Her body may signal promise or survival - or trial's struggle `twixt the two. It is her domain and her mirror - but circumscribed, often, by standards of appearance that deprive her of self-confidence and self-love.
Her body is biography, really; and society - that ruthless judge - misguides us into devaluing the ways life events are recorded on a woman's skin; encouraging her to white-out, with botox and shame, the storied evidence of her progress through life.
Like many figurative artists, I have long photographed women as reference for my art; and I have always sought to honor and celebrate the women portrayed in those works.
In “Bodies Mapping Time” communication is more direct, the women's voices less filtered. I work with each model in the mid-day light of my studio: a few chairs, some pillows, two bolts of fabric, my camera on a tripod, and the magic that each woman brings to her session.
We work collaboratively, choosing poses together, chatting as we work; and then the woman selects those portraits she feels most effectively convey who she is. This heretical approach, where the model partners with the artist, where the sitter selects her portrait, counter-intuitively affords greater artistic freedom, permitting me to witness (and hopefully capture) each woman's fullest expression of her self.
In a sense, “Bodies Mapping Time” is really two exhibitions:
an intimate, celebratory conversation among women; and a consciousness-raising invitation to men to reconsider popular culture's commercialized and eroticized portrayals of women.
I hope this ongoing project - now encompassing the participation of 40 women, ranging from 21 to 81 years old - enriches and helps jump-start these important conversations.