An exploration of the intensity of eye contact in a post pandemic world.
I took this image six years ago.
It was early in my photography career and I was still feeling unsure of what direction I was going with my business. Honestly, the word business never even came up. I did some portrait/modeling shoots. I took this picture in that time.
During the initial COVID shut downs, masks became essential outer wear. It was not a hardship for me to keep my distance from people. My fear centered around the thought of my kids being hospitalized or worse. It was difficult to be out and not yell at the unmasked morons I saw.
I enter every public space (well before COVID) with a resting bitch face that is so ingrained sometimes I don't realize I've activated it. It surprised me to see it in a picture someone took of me volunteering at the Glove Cities Arts Alliance Art Walk this year. I had a good day. I volunteered, hung out with my kids, talked with other artists. So I had no idea when I wasn't paying attention I would look so angry. I use headphones when I'm alone at any store, or walking around town. The music is a shield against how angry people's stupidity makes me.
Then came the masks. For me, this was another layer of shielding from interaction with the general public. Not only was there a practical germ prevention measure, but there was the gravy of a buffer from interaction.
My partner has a more traditional view of social contract politeness. She noticed that the polite "smile" she used to lubricate a grocery shopping experiences ended at her mouth. Which now was covered. So she started searching for eyes. More often than not, they were turned away.
I got a new computer with the first round of stimulus to replace the decade old laptop with a broken screen that I had been using. When I transferred my pictures over from my old computer, I found this. It's like a premonition.
The seed of an idea grew. I had spoken over the years of maybe some day completing a full project with this exact composition on many faces. Then Saratoga Arts announced their 2022 Regrant Program application open. With help from the board of the Glove Cities Arts Alliance and the Grants & Community Relations Manager at Saratoga Arts, I wrote for and received grant funding for this project. (This is condensing months of work. It was not as quick and easy as 2 sentences makes it out to be.)
Through Their Eyes opens August 22nd and runs until October 21st at the Fulton Montgomery Chamber of Commerce in Gloversville, NY. Check out the details and dates for the Artist Receptions here.
This show will be considered successful when there is audience participation. It is an exploration of how you feel when you encounter it. There will be an anonymous questionnaire to fill out on the website. Things like What was your initial reaction to entering a room hung with 20 pairs of eyes? Would you have broken eye contact if you could?
Unlike most art shows, this one will be hung without name or description tags. You will be given a list of numbers and a list of emotions and asked to match them up. Which set of eyes looks overwhelmed to you? Which looks absorbed?
I am excited to hear from you about your experience of this show.