by Olivia Joy

Self: what distinguishes you from me.

All of our lives, we’re told things about ourselves, be it our appearance, character, or personality…some of them hyperbolic in nature, others simply true. And any time I’ve been asked to look into the mirror or create a self portrait, explain what I look like to someone who cannot see, etc, one hundred percent of the time, I fixate on those hyperbolic mentions first, rather than looking at who/what I really am. 

I was asked to make a self portrait…And being in the art department for over a year now, this has probably been the fifth self portrait I’ve made. So I started thinking about how I am affected by that process, of trying to make a bajillion marks on a page that end up looking like me in the end, but being influenced most by these characteristics that other folks see rather than reality itself. I decided to dive into the technique that is often taught in intro level art courses, focusing entirely on your subject rather than your piece the whole time you are drawing. Drawing blindly.

I thought that doing this this would steer me away from focusing so much on these thoughts engrained in my mind only because of those surrounding me, but instead, I walked into one of the most agonizing experiences of life itself. Literally staring at myself to complete twelve drawings, enveloped me into a new state of thinking. Now it’s not that I hate looking at myself in the mirror or anything like that, because everyone knows I’m always trying to have my hair/makeup on fleek…but staring and focusing on nothing other than yourself creates this soul-filled, spiritual connection with yourself..alone and isolated. And that is so dang uncomfortable. 

This got me thinking about just how valuable it is to be driven by the experience you have while making, to cherish that process…even if it’s totally uncomfortable.

Agony, March 2017