Views on Self, Viewing Self

Posted on: March 28, 2017
Views: 2662


Shelby Wynne Richardson�s Views on Self Viewing Self (2015) capitalizes on the perceptibility of certain materials and the overperformance of oneself as a way to begin exploring and pushing the boundaries of identity. Four headpieces exist at an accessible height, split down the center by the addition of a mirror and an invitation to both try the headpieces on and document oneself in them. The act of placing such an outlandish object upon one�s head invites the viewer to view themselves in a new light, or perhaps gain a certain type of power or agency from the action of adorning their body in such a way. Similar to putting on a superhero cape, the gesture of adult dress up allows the viewer, and now performer, to feel a sense of levity or power they perhaps did not feel before.

Aside from the performative aspect of this installation, the materiality of these objects is of great importance. A neon pink and bulbous halo adorned with pearls, a metallic green cap filled with gold jingle bells, a reflective origami tiara, and plush fabric crown coated in gold leaf, are neither quiet nor unassuming. Each object displayed upon a white mannequin head and colored wig, only adds to the specialness of the object and the implied spectacle of feminine identity. Richardson�s attention to craft and light capturing materials incites the need felt by the artist for increased visibility within her own visual material culture.

Other Projects by Shelby Wynne Richardson

Shelby Wynne Richardson

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MFA Student

Major: Sculpture

Graduation Year: 2017

Artist Statement:

Queer, for many, acts as an identifier. A proclamation of otherness or an unapologetic refusal to define oneself in the language of a culture not their own. Yet, most often queer acts strongest as verb. Queer: an action taken to dismantle that which does not apply. Queering spaces to give purpose. Queering materials and language to provide beacons and reminders of hope. Queering our narratives. Queerings the rules.

Through various methods of visibility, such as material culture or community driven discourse, my work aims to create lesbian cultural space for growth and empowerment. The reclamation of language, narratives, and sex positive dialogue works in opposition to patriarchal expectations and provides a sense of support for those feeling their stories are not part of the larger constellation of disenfranchised “others”. The reality is that queer bodies, specifically queer female bodies, need each other now more than ever.

Capitalizing on the perceptibility of certain materials and the overperformance of oneself, I begin to explore and push the boundaries of identity; reclaiming the underbelly of the visual culture while shining visibility on the queerness of my existence. Rooted between many places I am constantly drawing influence from the Instagram famous, those who wear their “plastic-ness” on their sleeves, and embrace fully the absurdity and spectacle of the feminine, and yet my life has never existed without the legacy and tradition of craft resting firmly on my shoulders.

The specificity of my materials is many times as important as my content, as I search for ways to utilize inherent metaphors or aesthetic qualities to reinforce my continued visual narratives. Through building these narratives surrounding queer female identity I contribute to the ontological experience of collective storytelling in which those who experience feelings of “otherness” find personal reclamation in the identification of a space made just for them. Through my use of adornment, glitter, and kitsch I elevate these materials while at the same time making cultural space for those who share in feelings of cultural invisibility.

I can see you. Do you see me too?