If I had been born a boy,
What would the world have taught me?
How would the world treat me?
How would I treat the world?
How would I wear my insecurity? My pride?
What would I do with my vulnerability, my fear, anger?
How would I have understood and expressed myself?
How would I have navigated the constraints and freedoms of “manhood”?
How would I love?
WHAT KIND OF MAN WOULD I BE? is a photo series of self portraits of myself as a man that investigates how the mask can bring truth closer to the surface. What we hide behind is informed by what we have to hide. As an artist, I am interested in the lives behind a face — a presence lived, dreamed, remembered, forgotten – and in the mask that obscures it. We most often mask to hide hurt, fear, and the soil of experiences those feelings grew from. If you look closely, the covering, rather than conceals, points out – the mask reveals. We understand that this is not to be acknowledged in society to the point we often don’t see it. It is symptomatic of the syndrome in “The Emperor’s New Clothes”. We all tacitly agree to this and expect it of one another. No one told us why while we were being taught to do this. We are conditioned into this collective cultural blindness so early that we rarely think to ask.
In many non-Western cultures, masks are spiritual or magical tools. Masks are used to get closer or connect to something outside of the self; to draw spirits or bring the rain; and to communicate with the divine. Here in the west we mask to get further away from each other and ourselves. We mask to contract rather than to expand. In the Man series, I do both. I expand and contract to illuminate. I rearrange myself to reveal. I am both Inside and Outside. My ‘disguise’ reconciles.
And then there’s the carnival. Step right up! Guess who’s behind door #7!
From it’s inception in February 2012 to it’s completion in September 2016, the project was interactive. The photographs were disseminated via blog, Facebook and email asking the viewer to speculate on who the person in the photograph was. The photographs and these responses are documented here.
WHAT KIND OF MAN WOULD I BE? culminated in a solo exhibition at the Luggage Store Gallery in San Francisco form October 14 thru November 11, 2016 and was extended through December 31. On November 11th, I did an artist talk in conversation with Justin Desmangles of the Before Columbus Foundation.
The project and exhibition were supported in part by an Individual Artist Commission Grant from the San Francisco Arts Commission.