Sense of Self
November 9, 2019 – March 15, 2020
Installation view of Sense of Self featuring Marcela Pardo Ariza’s series Kin Skin, 2019 (left) and Jamil Hellu’s series Hues, 2018 (right). Photo credit: David Pace
Opening Reception —
November 17, 2019
Members Preview: 1- 2pm
Public Reception: 2 – 4pm
Find news and press coverage on this exhibition here.
Sense of Self features Bay Area photographers who explore identity and selfhood through portraiture.
The photograph can be a tool of empowerment used to reposition the complicated histories of portraiture. Presenting subjects who have been historically excluded and misrepresented reclaims their identities and reinserts them into art discourse. Sense of Self explores identity and selfhood through the photographs of Marcela Pardo Ariza, Tammy Rae Carland, Erica Deeman, Jamil Hellu, and Stephanie Syjuco. Each artist explores deep concepts around identity – including race, queer identity, gender expression, and cultural lineage. Sense of Self celebrates the power of contemporary photographic portraiture to spark empathy, break down barriers, and subvert assumptions.
Jamil Hellu invites members of the LGBTQ+ community to collaborate on portraits that explore queer histories and cultural lineage. Hellu considers the ways his portraits “can express an evolving definition of pride and empowerment while resisting the growing intolerance in our political times.” The series On Becoming presents Tammy Rae Carland as both her father and mother in reimagined family photos, reflecting on the complexities of what we inherit from our parents, and how family photos can present a false constructed narrative. In Carland’s series Lesbian Beds, the imprints of bodies on matresses act as portraits, shedding light on the private domestic realm of non-heteronormative women’s sexuality.
Stephanie Syjuco’s portraits comment on Western constructions of the “exotic” and the problematic history of ethnography. Her series Applicant Photos (Migrants) also discusses the loss of individuality in the way migrants are depicted as a faceless, anonymous mass. Erica Deeman’s Brown series will be presented in an immersive installation that questions insidious assumptions about race, and how we read faces based on our own visual expectations and historic portrayals. Marcela Pardo Ariza has created a new series for Sense of Self as an extension of her 2018 series Kin. Pardo Ariza describes kin in her statement: “It’s anti-geographical, it’s nontopographical. / It’s intersectional, intergenerational, transnational.” This series visualizes Pardo Ariza’s connection to community, that feeling of belonging and recognition of ourselves in others; “kin is what keeps us here.”
Sense of Self is supported by the Fleishhacker Foundation and SVCreates, in partnership with the County of Santa Clara.