I finally finished my self-portrait for 2014 and it took me almost all of 2015 to do it!
I am relatively happy with the way that it turned out, although the process of producing it turned out to be more of a pain than I thought it would be. I started out with this idea in my head of making a portrait with small pieces removed from it to convey this feeling of uncertainty. Then, I wanted to reattach some of the pieces rather crudely with hand stitching to make it seem like I was attempting to hold my life together.
Needless to say, that piece did not turn out anything like I had planned and I was more than happy to consign it to the trash bin.
So I went through this process of re-evaluating how I was going to go about generating the portrait that I wanted. It's a process that took nearly the whole year. I was so undecided because I really did not want to stray from the original vision in my head. I did countless samples on paper. Ultimately, I decided that I wanted to focus on arrow shapes being cut from the portrait to underscore that sense of direction as indicated in the title. But, I really wanted to maintain the prominence of the portrait image itself so instead of cutting across the entire surface, I only wanted to cut away part of it and fill in any other space with painted/printed arrow.
You can see the result above. Even though the title also conveys a sense of uncertainty, all the arrows point up. I didn't want that upwards direction necessarily to convey positivity, so I staggered the columns of arrows across the surface. Some reach higher than others. It brings to my mind a bar graph or a scale of fluctuations in volume. The taller columns obviously encourage that sense of positivity, the lower columns representing a reduction in that positive sensibility.
Aside from not achieving my goals in my first attempt, the most difficult thing for me to do was to not be biased. This portrait is a reflection of the events of 2014, and completing it so late in what was a terrible year, it was difficult for me at times to separate myself from my current emotions and let the events of an entire year ago dictate my aesthetic decisions.
The background reads: "2014 was a year of change: of endings a long time coming and unexpected new beginnings. I'm not entirely sure I like the direction my life is heading." It is immensely true. I graduate from the MFA program at ECU in May. I took a job in Goldsboro in August. I moved to Goldsboro in October, leaving all my friends and connections behind and essentially, having to start all over again. Just like I did when I moved to Greenville in 2007.
It was one big life change after another and I questioned every decision I made from the moment I made it. Looking back on it now, after another whole year has passed, I definitely cannot say that I made good decisions and I find myself regretting some of them. But what is done is done and, even though I struggle, I will have to find it in myself to (eventually) move on.
Hopefully that sense of regret will come across in my portrait for 2015, which I plan on beginning here in the next couple of weeks.