This week's assignment in Modern Art and Ideas was equal measure fascinating and frustrating. I mean, it is an intriguing assignment for me. A key part of my dissertation work explored the impact of continued parental relationships into emerging adulthood on the formation of identity (especially as younger folk struggle to navigate through expectations of the post-boomer cookie-cutter life trajectory). And, visual art gives us so much for tools and inspiration to express the depth and breadth of our selves.
But I struggle with only sharing myself piecemeal. I always want people to know me, the gestalt, and not focus on a particular aspect which tells you none of my story. Otherwise, I feel disingenuous and constrained. Indeed, there is never enough space on a name tag or Twitter bio to communicate our selves, so we are forced to commodify our identities, and choose only what we feel are valuable for the situation at the time.
After a week of my brain percolating on this question, and trying out a few ideas through collage work and sketches, I returned to my primary medium, photography. I am not a fan of my own self-photography, but I wanted a photo that communicated discomfort, vulnerability and also the whole "me". These ideas led to the disheveled pandemic hair, the expression in my eyes, and the exposed shoulders. I used the name tag to communicate my inability to properly express myself, and that I frequently feel constrained by only having to conform to dishing out and serving small morsels of myself through socially-constructed channels and single-word labels.
There is never enough space on a name tag.
Personal blog for Bryn Robinson, PhD. All opinions are my own.