The photo in the piece of art above was taken of me at age nineteen, during my junior year in college. I had a boyfriend at the time who was into photography, especially black and white, and I still have several of the photos he took of me. I think I find them striking because at the time I was struggling with my self-image and yet I remember feeling beautiful while those photos were being taken.
For this creation I began with a piece of canvas paper and had painted it with some blue and silver acrylic similarly to yesterday’s stamp carvings. Then I scanned this photo and printed it on a transparency. I painted the edges (this is the only part I don’t quite like) and then after that dried I used a couple of the stamps I have been creating to make a frame around the image.
In InterPlay there is a form called “I could talk about. . .” and you go back and forth with a partner listing all the things you could talk about and tell a story, however simple. As I was contemplating this image, I was reminded of that exercise and what came to mind was “Entering into this image I could write about. . .” as a way of opening up the layers captured in a moment in time.
I could write about. . .
- having just returned from Paris for a semester where I felt incredibly lonely, despite having had a great experience in many ways.
- living with a roommate who I think had borderline personality disorder but I didn’t have a name for it at the time.
- coming back from Paris and discovering that my boyfriend had fallen for another young woman despite his frequent letters while I was away assuring me he was waiting.
- being nineteen and filled with doubt about myself.
- believing at the time that most men were completely self-serving like my father.
As you can see, an image can open up many possibilities for stories and I have revealed an awful lot about my angst-filled late adolescence without saying much at all. It was a painful time in my life for a number of reasons, but there’s something moving to me about this young woman who let herself just breathe in beauty for a moment. I plan to work with more of these images along the way, as they stirred up a lot of possibilities for reflection. I think there is enormous potential for sacred work here and entering back into my story with tremendous compassion for who I was and for my ancestors.
-Christine Valters Paintner @ Abbey of the Arts