‘Voices Matter’: self-portraits from local artist and MC students
For Multicultural Day, the Art Department held an exhibition in the Administration building that featured a collaboration between artist Kristine Schomaker and Professor Erika Lizée’s Gallery Practices class.
Through a series of self-portraits, Schomaker’s autobiographical artwork entitled “Plus,” focused on the body image, gender identity, and the pressures society forces on women’s physical beauty over character and intelligence.
“I have an eating disorder,” said Schomaker. “Through counseling and therapy, I learned to be more conscious of it as far as my body goes.”
She was open to discussing her own life and how art helped her understand herself more.
Schomaker’s portraits feature her body on a frosted shower door in a hotel bathroom. She spontaneously started taking photos with her iPhone in timed bursts to create the images with different poses.
“The series wasn’t planned…it just came to me,” said Schomaker. “In the bathroom, I was standing behind the frosted glass door and thought ‘wow this would be fun!’”
Lizée remarked that Schomaker was brave and strong for showing herself in an exposed setting.
Schomaker explained how the title, “Plus“, stands for not only plus size, but as a positive or in her words, “A+.”
“We’re much more than a size…even more than a picture,” said Schomaker pointing to her photographs behind her.
After Schomaker discussed her artwork to students and faculty, Lizée added a final word.
“You should definitely look up Christine’s work online,” said Lizée. “She approaches this idea from so many different angles and there are so many different bodies of work for us to look at.”
Students in the class created their own self-portraits in response to Schomaker’s, expressing their own story or identity.
One of the art students, Jeffery Sugishita, displayed a self-portrait using black silhouettes contrasting with layers of colored paper that were cut with an X-ACTO blade.
“I have experienced both ends of the spectrum in terms of indoors and outdoors activities,” said Sugishita. “I have pulled through many all-nighters at my desk including one for this piece that I did the night before it was due.”
After the students finished presenting their self-portraits, Lizée offered students and faculty to write about their own uniqueness on a piece of paper that Lizée then put on a wall in the gallery.
Both Schomaker’s and the Gallery Practices class’s self-portraits mirrored the unique and intimate experiences that participants wrote on the wall.