Sometime back, I featured a Call for Entry for the Gift of Gift of Program. Gift of Gift of’s mission is to offer young art patrons an egalitarian opportunity to impact large collecting institutions and to aid emerging artists at a critical point in their careers.
Each year Gift of Gift of organizes an event in which photographs are exhibited for the consideration of collective purchase, to be offered as a donation to a major collecting institution. Event attendees receive a set number of votes with the purchase of event tickets. Attendees then vote on which of the exhibited artworks they think should become part of a museum’s permanent collection. Those artworks with the highest number of votes will be purchased with the pooled funds.
GoGo’s events introduce young collectors to young artists; GoGo gives the gift of exposure to emerging artists; GoGo gives the gift of discovering works to young patrons; GoGo gives the gift of new artwork to chosen collecting institutions.
So long story short, I was curious to see who was selected and collected into the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. And as luck would have it, when I contacted one of the winners, Laura Young, about featuring her work on LENSCRATCH, she told me that she had read about the call, right here, on LENSCRATCH and this post has now come full circle.
Here is the photograph that is now held in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Titled: Furrow, created in 2010.
Laura Young lives in Nashville, holds a BFA from the University of Georgia and an MFA from the University of Miami. Laura’s artistic expression is not just confined to photography–she uses a variety of media including ceramics and works on paper, and a common theme in her work is the relationship we have with our bodies. She began using her own body as canvas in 2005 and Since then, ornamenting her body has become a ritual performed to alter her sense of self. She has had numerous exhibitions galleries and museums and was awarded a Professional Development Grant by the Tennessee Arts Commission in 2010.
“Furrow” is from a series about wanting to alter one’s body and the internal conflict that develops when we feel repulsed and attracted to our body at the same time.
The long history of body ornamentation is intricately connected to human identity. Whether with permanent marks like tattoos, or temporary decorations like makeup and clothing, body art is used to signal an individual’s place in society, to enhance beauty, and to symbolize group identity and affiliation. It can also be a way for people to challenge social values and cultural assumptions about identity, and the body itself.
Drawing on my body is a ritual that helps me explore my identity. This ritual mimics the daily grooming and attention to appearance that is tightly woven into most woman’s identity. As such it binds me to the “Tribe of Women.” Yet, I strive to stretch the boundaries of my identity and construct a self image that plumbs the depths of my longing rather than conform to society’s ideals of feminine beauty and behavior.
In my current studio practice, I start by drawing lines and patterns on my skin to alter my appearance and reveal hidden aspects of my identity. Then I document the transformation by shooting self portrait photographs with a digital camera in natural light.
Over the past 5 years, this process has opened my eyes to how ingrained the cult of beauty is in all of us. With different series, I have captured my feminine and masculine aspects, my human and animal traits, and the feelings of attraction and repulsion to my own body. My most recent series has been an attempt to create portraits of strong women. Women whose life experience seems etched upon their skin and with this experience comes a wisdom which I’m longing to know.
The following images started in response to the way women apply cosmetics to change their appearance to fit our society’s ideas of beauty. I began to fantasize about what women might look like in a society where beauty was believed to be the visual expression of the person’s inner state and personal traits. How would personal qualities such as compassion, intuition, creativity, perseverance be expressed? The resulting portraits turned out to be interesting women that I would like to have coffee with.