I am an observer. Through exploration and examination of the face, I seek to understand identity. My relationship to portraiture is informed by a series of questions that consider “self” and society on a larger scale. As a dual heritage English and Jamaican individual, I question how moving to the States from the UK has altered my perception of my own identity. How do others perceive me? How do I understand myself through other’s projected perceptions? How do I view myself as an individual? How does this translate into group representations and generalizations, and how does this new consciousness inform how I depict my subjects?
I hope to foster a dialogue that considers the judgments we make based on visual appearance – questioning the face and challenging the portrait’s primacy in forming our understanding of people. My investigations has lead me to Physiognomy (from the Gk. physis meaning “nature” and gnomon meaning “judge” or “interpreter”), a pseudo-science created in the 1700s suggesting that facial features could be used to understand a person’s character and being. Physiognomy, together with Phrenology and Eugenics, has been used throughout history to justify racism against and intolerance towards people of colour. This legacy lingers on in our collective psyche and manifests itself in various forms throughout the history of art. The quest for perfection in features to identify nobility, honour and truth, to name a few, are still, I believe, rooted in the desire to read the face.
Images to the left from the series “Brown” and “Silhouettes”
Nominated by Pierre-François Galpin, Assistant Curator, Contemporary Jewish Museum