Ellen owns a health and beauty salon where she gives beautiful precision haircuts and styles.
Laureen Griffin wants to take your picture. Not only that. She wants to
have a conversation about gender norms and stereotypes while setting up
the shot. As part of her ongoing “Gender Portraiture Project,” Griffin —
AIRSPACE’s current 40th Street artist in residence — has created a
temporary photography studio at the West Philly gallery, and is inviting you
to stop in, pose and chat.
Though open to everyone, the project has thus far attracted people who don’t fit in or, at least, don’t think they fit in — a situation Griffin knows all too well. As a kid, she played with Tonka trucks and matchbox cars, climbed trees and made bows and arrows. “I always had to go next door to play with the boys because the closest thing my parents would buy for me was a Barbie camper,” she says. Indeed, the project stems from Griffin’s own desire to come to terms with feeling out of place. And, in the spirit of being open and accepting, she encourages participants to dress as any gender persona and pick any fantasy setting. (“One subject wanted to be seen in the Victorian era,” she says.)
In addition to showcasing several of Griffin’s previous works on paper, the exhibit features six new portraits, framed or mounted on wood panel, with more to be added throughout the month. Though the conversations are not included in the pieces, Griffin hopes to eventually
print or record them. “My goal is to have a critical mass of stories and portraits reflecting gender variations and to show how class, family, personal taste, body type, age and whatever other qualifiers are placed on us affect us,” she says. “I want to inspire dialogue about how societal expectations rule our gender.”
© Philadelphia City Paper
Thank you Tami Fertig for adding my project last minute!
Tami wrties: “Laureen Griffin wants to take your picture. Not only that. She wants to have a conversation about gender norms and stereotypes while setting up the shot. As part of her ongoing “Gender Portraiture Project,” Griffin — AIRSPACE’s current 40th Street artist in residence — has created a temporary photography studio at the West Philly gallery, and is inviting you to stop in, pose and chat. more…
An introduction to the
Gender Portraiture Project
Recent works by Laureen Griffin
October 9 – November 2, 2007
Opening reception: Friday, October 12, 5 – 8 pm
AIRSPACE, 40th Street Artist-in-Residence
4013 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
New Gallery hours: Tuesday & Thursday, 10 am – 2 pm; Friday, 10 am – 6 pm; Sunday, 1 – 5 pm.
mad as hell…
Martina and I set up a test shot. I wanted to check the lighting, etc. I am using these fabulous strobe lights donated to the project by a good friend in combination with tungsten fill lights set up to create a low level ambiance. When we began, Martina stood still, so I could make sure the camera was in focus. With the ambient lighting at such a low level, I was afraid the camera could not auto focus. Then I suggested moving, punching, boxing – put the camera in auto focus and YES – the shots were mostly in focus. I bought an Olympus E500 and I love it for the most part – except I am used to the hairline in my Canon AE-1 so focusing always seems to be a concern. I am told that upgrading to a better lens helps… so far I make do.
I have my studio set up at 4013 Chestnut Street – 40th St AIR – and am ready for folks to sign up for conversation and picture taking. If you are interested please send me an email or if you are in the neighborhood stop by – knock on the door or drop a note in the mailbox. Although I have said, open studio hours are Tuesdays & Thursdays 1-5PM, I am still setting up and may not actually be in the building – for now email is the best contact.
To see live samples of my work you can visit Green Line Cafe , 4239 Baltimore Ave, across from Clark Park. I am also showing a Recent Retrospective of my works on paper at 40th St AIR Gallery – opening reception Friday, October 12, 5-8PM and Philadelphia Open Studio Tours (POST) October 27 & 28, noon-6PM.
Hope to see you there…
Gender Portraiture Project is not only being endorsed by 40th Street AIR and Green Line Cafe, I have received funding!! “Congratulations! That is fantastic and such a morale booster.” writes Laura Rugarber from 40th St AIR in an email I opened this morning. I feel like my ideas, work, and most of all my identity are being validated – what a long time coming….and more to come….
The Gender Portraiture Project is supported by a grant from the Five County Arts Fund,
a Pennsylvania Partners in the Arts program of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.
THANK YOU EVERYONE!! 🙂
In Project Basics I talk about being gender queer. I am thinking this may limit my project as I am also looking to make intercultural connections amoungst women. To discover how societal expectations rule our gender. My goal is to have a critical mass of stories and portraits reflecting gender variations and to show how birth, class, family, country of origin and ancestry, personal taste, body type, age and whatever other qualifiers are placed on us affect us. “Gender variations” does not necessarily mean trans, but can also be one’s interpretation of what is feminine or masculine. To think about times when we were awarded or punished in relation to our “appropriate” gender-like behaviors or looks.
The Gender Portraiture Project is inspired by my need to participate in conversations about gender structuring and reflections on being femele. I personally identify as gender queer, although this is a very recent development. The reason being – I never realized there was a term to describe the way I feel and the way I am often treated, misunderstood, and stereotyped (usually misjudged) because people don’t know how to categorize me. I guess gender queer is the closest resemblence to my personality although, I am not certain I even want to fit into a category.
Gender portraits will be publicly presented as fine art. I am interesting in including stories as text in book form or as audio as well as the visual portrait. The stories will not be linked to the image nor to the individual. My motives are to get us out there – to be seen – to be recognized as dignified humin beings – to be familiar. More about public exhibition later….
When I work with an individual to visually construct a gender persona, we talk about personal identity. Often examples are given of times when a connection is made in a positive and meaningful way when we are recognized by those who are more inimately familiar with us. Other times we were scorned, or mistreated. The goal is to find and share personal expression; to leave a place of self condemnation and enter celebration and dignity. I offer a safe non-judgemental environment to explore personal identity and ideas. The next step is to develop a costume or outfit and think about props that may give further context to a scenario and/or identity. The mood of each portrait may vary depending on each individual – they can be comic, ironic, celebratory, beautiful, happy and more…. Although we may talk about times of suffereing the visual portrait tends to be on a positive note.
During our initial conversation, the individual may explore body image rather than a decorated or costumed image. For this reason I have developed a new series titled the Gender Body.
The photography studio will open for initial inquiries and individual meetings beginning Sept. 17th at 4013 Chestnut Street in Philadelphia, PA. I will be on location Tuesdays and Thursdays 1-5PM and by appointment. If you are interested, please contact me by email. To view examples of select portraits view Gender Portraits and Gender Bodies.
I look forward to hearing from you!