When I was fourteen, I was awarded “most likely to be known for her smile while modeling for the Colgate Company,” by my teachers for our middle school superlatives. I did not think I was smart, and nobody seemed to argue with me. My journey as an artist started at a young age, and I spent nineteen hours a week in a classical ballet studio, perfecting my plies and pirouettes. I remember looking in the mirror at the studio before every class and pinching the skin around my hips and pulling it back- wishing I was less curvy; wishing I was less me. At seventeen I was raped by my boyfriend, and my body continued to be abused and harassed throughout college. Upon entering graduate school, I did not plan on making this kind of work but it was born out of desperate need to share my story for my own survival.
This is Mine is a four-part project that confronts the sexualization of the female form and the proliferation of the feminine ideal. Part 1, The Diaries, is a body of work curated from my personal archive of family photographs, love letters from boys, journal entries since middle school and interactions with social media. It serves as a prerequisite to Part II, Adult in Training, where I have documented myself on camera for the last year and a half in moments of transition into the construct of adulthood. In Part III, The Monologue, I share my experiences of being raped and sexually harassed as a call for women to share their, own individual stories, and in Part IV, Milk, I photograph women breastfeeding in their homes, challenging and problematizing the representation of the female body. Accessing the history of the individual or collective female experience is incredibly painful, and feminism cannot be oversimplified as an empowering mechanism that will deliver positive change without physical and/or emotional struggle. So this is my attempt at grappling with that. My attempt to look at my experience through a feminist lens, and to produce work that lies within this value system. Recognizing the work of the women who come before me, and the human bodies they occupy, I present you with my own. This is mine.