Studio Channel Islands
August 7 – September 25, 2021
I hate pictures of myself.
I have always felt fat.
I am not alone.
In my 46 years of life, I have only been asked out on a date a couple times. That equated with my belief that I was unattractive and unworthy. I made an assumption and lived my life from that self-perception, as truth. The concept of Perceive Me originated from these ideas. The premise is that we value ourselves and our self-worth based on how we imagine others perceive us. The action of creating the work is allowing me to challenge these notions and begin the process of self-healing. Perceive Me as a political and social act involves performance, installation, conversation and community organizing.
Perceive Me is a contribution to self-growth. Through it I ask, Who are we in the eyes of other people? Does it matter? Should it matter? Why do we take other people’s opinions of ourselves so seriously? Do we even know what other people perceive when they look at us? Why should we care? Baring my body, I’m forcing people to confront their own biases, prejudices and stereotypes and overcome my own. This project has made me cry and laugh, yell and hide, cringe and boast, and ultimately persist because I have faith in myself, the artists I have worked with and the audience who will look at my work and share the experience.
Engaging the art community to create this installation is a giant step forward in the trajectory of my ongoing personal exploration through performance. 60 artists gave their time and talent to create artworks that reflect their vision of me as I posed for them as a performative action. Not only is the art outstanding but the love they have for me is reflected in the works. Their vision of me heals me on levels beyond the body.
Every photo shoot, every meeting, every performance session, I came away with excitement. I loved being in front of the camera. As I modeled in many different poses, I felt glamorous, classy, beautiful and seen. The poses came naturally, and I was having fun. I soon realized my inner feelings are much different than the physicality of the body. While I still had a hard time correlating the performative aspect of modeling with the image of the fat woman in the artwork, I began a journey of self-acceptance and even appreciation for the woman I am. Over time, the gap became smaller.
The process of working on Perceive Me never had an end goal. It is a part of my creative healing journey. There are days when I feel like I have changed, maybe become a little less self-conscious, a little more considerate of my body and freer in letting go of ideas of how others see me. Working through an eating disorder and challenging the way people think and talk about our bodies will be an ongoing process, so I can’t see Perceive Me ending anytime soon. Today, I am awake, aware and I have persevered.
Today I take these issues and confront, challenge, deconstruct and share them so others will be empowered and inspired. Today I share with you my plus size, curvy, imperfect body as a symbol for the change we need.
Read more about the Perceive Me project: https://www.kristineschomaker.net/about