My mother always strived to be her vision of the perfect woman. She painted our first house after her divorce from my father in shades of yellow, in hopes it would hide the sadness that rested inside of her under the make-up and box dyed, blonde hair. Her closet was filled with soft pastels and floral patterns that complimented the smile always waiting on her lips.
In this series, I explore what we show to the world as women. As a young girl I was given many instructions on how a woman should act. I spent my life in the well- intentioned disguises taught to me by my mother. I concealed much of my introverted personality by making sure I always appeared happy and confident, the way I was taught a woman should always behave. Now I understand that we are a balance of holding on and letting go through the dichotomy that is a woman’s personality. Hidden behind expected social roles, our inner identity can become lost. Through my work, I explore what happens when our masks become so convincing that we no longer recognize ourselves.
Through self-portraiture, I’m constantly blurring the line into a twisted sense of subject viewing subject. I’m confronting the disguises that have become a part of my feminine identity while exposing and scrutinizing my own secrets. By creating the garments and shooting in the studio, I regain a sense of control that was lost. Working alone I experience a powerful reclamation. There is constant tension between my expressed self and the invented self in the images. In some images my body is anonymous, a stand in for many women. In others I confront the viewer, the camera, and ultimately myself in an attempt to find my inner identity underneath years of impersonations.
Emily Wiethorn (b.1991) is an MFA candidate in Studio Art at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and received a BFA in Applied Photography from Northern Kentucky University. Her work has been exhibited regionally across the east and mid-western parts of the United States. Her work explores notions of feminine identity, gender, and self-discovery.
You can see more of her work here.