Sofia Marcus-Myers: The States Project: Oregon
Sofia Marcus-Myers, last but certainly not least. Sofia is the youngest photographer I am showcasing for the States Project: Oregon. She is brave, and so is her work. I am breaking the rules and sharing images from 2 bodies of work from Sofia, The Ripple Effect and Body Beautiful. I feel it is important to see how one series feeds the other. At the age of 21, she has an immense amount of work; even though she is a full time college student and works two jobs. Sofia’s work is very personal in content, yet carries universal messages. It gives me great pleasure to share with you this young voice in photography.
Sofia Marcus-Myers combines empowering messages with taboo subject matter to create activist imagery. Much of her work focuses on the human condition: how we connect, how we abuse or support one another, and how we process the world. Sofia strives to build relationships and help others through photography. She has exhibited her work in galleries in Oregon and New York, including Blue Sky, Talisman, Newspace Center for Photography, The Angry Pigeon, Oregon College of Art and Craft, and Calumet. In 2015, Sofia was honored to share her work at August’s “Brown Bag Lunch Talk” at the Portland Art Museum. She lives in Portland, Oregon and photographs everywhere.
The Ripple Effect
Isaac Newton’s third law of physics states that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. When someone walks down the street, they push off the ground with their feet and the ground pushes back with equal force, allowing them to keep moving forward. Walking is of course impossible to do without a ground to walk on.
Thought of conceptually, Newton’s third law is relevant to human interactions as well. When someone does or says something to us, we react. Sometimes the thing done to us was so significant that our community reacts with us. The way we treat others reverberates through communities. I call this The Ripple Effect.
I believe everyone has experienced The Ripple Effect, either because their actions strongly affected someone or they have been strongly affected by the actions of someone else.
When I was seven, my stepdad began molesting me and told me to keep it a secret from everyone. This continued for four years. Long before I told anyone the secret, my reaction to my stepdad’s actions was internal. My inner dialogue grew louder and louder until my dad noticed a strange comment I made about my stepdad. His observation was the precursor to a series of dramatic events. Chaos began the moment I told my mom what my stepdad had done.
Many things happened at once: my mom and I fled our house and took refuge with a friend; my stepdad had a heart attack and died; our whole community found out that I’d been abused; people called my stepdad a monster, my mom an oblivious trophy wife, and me a slut who was doomed to a sad future. My stepdad’s actions caused an uproar; an equal and opposite reaction took place. The whole community got involved and the effects of what had happened to me reverberated into the world. The Ripple Effect had begun, and it continues today.
Each image in this series is a self-portrait, and I’ve written phrases on all of them. The words are meant to look childish, as if I had written them as my seven-year-old self. Each photograph is another piece of my story. The phrases in quotes are things different people said in reaction to what my stepdad had done; phrases that aren’t in quotes are pieces of writing I took from one of my old journals or something I remember thinking or saying while I was being abused.
I created this body of work to heal my wounds, but it’s also a letter to you, viewer. I know that at some point in your life, someone has hurt you, and you have probably hurt someone else. Our actions create a Ripple Effect. The way you move through this world is up to you, but your choices will affect others. How do you want to affect the world?
Every day since I was twelve, I have lifted up my shirt and carefully examined my belly. I have tugged, prodded, and scratched my skin, trying to make it fulfill a formation it won’t hold. Countless hours I’ve spent with my face pressed up against a mirror, my fingers picking madly at spots that don’t even exist. My body has been abused and used against my will, other people’s words and bodies pressing up against my skin like wildfire. I don’t like my body.
Not long ago I was complaining to my best friend about how my stomach looked. “Why does it bother you so much?” she asked me. “You have a boyfriend.”
As a woman, I have learned that my body is beautiful if a man thinks it is. The media tells me this; my abusive stepfather did too. Even my best friend reinforced the idea when she told me I shouldn’t obsess over my body because I have a boyfriend who thinks I’m beautiful. Loving our bodies, no matter what gender or sexual orientation we identify with, comes from within. It doesn’t matter how many people tell us we’re beautiful. If we hate the person we see in the mirror, nobody’s consolation will cure us no matter how true their words are.
I created the Body Beautiful Project to empower women, gender non binaries, and transgendered people. Love yourself. You are perfect. Look at all of these beautiful people who are just like you and me. I’m in the process of learning to love my body, too. I thought that maybe if I tried helping others, I could learn to love myself.
Posts on Lenscratch may not be reproduced without the permission of the Lenscratch staff and the photographer.
ReRuns: Jim Leisy: The States Project: OregonAugust 24th, 2016
Sofia Marcus-Myers: The States Project: OregonJanuary 31st, 2016
Larry S. Clark: The States Project: OregonJanuary 30th, 2016
Ray Bidegain: The States Project: OregonJanuary 29th, 2016
Jake Shivery: The States Project: OregonJanuary 28th, 2016