We know and understand ourselves and others through our faces. We read facial expressions to appreciate the range of human emotions that others are feeling—hesitation, honesty, sadness, excitement, concern, joy, pain, loss, relief. We observe slight articulations on peoples’ faces or something in their eyes to see what they are thinking (even things they are trying to conceal). We also assess facial characteristics to determine aspects of identity, such as age, gender, and culture. And these characteristics develop as we do, from childhood into adulthood, and from middle age into the older years—always retaining the distinguishing facial features we were recognized by as children.
Understanding and revealing a person’s character and spirit through their face is at the heart of portrait painting. In this exhibition, Sense of Self, the artists have created telling stories about their subjects–their identities, their essence, their experiences–by closely observing and portraying them through portraiture or self-portraiture. Artists Sofia Christanti, Frances Hessels, Ed Hunt, Sara Norquay, and Mary Whale have closely observed others, and themselves, to create images that reflect more than just their literal likeness. The portraits presented in this exhibition invite an empathetic, human sensitivity towards and appreciation of ourselves and others.
These observations provoke questions about how we present ourselves to and how we are perceived. What features on the surface of our skin physically manifest our internal selves, who we are inside and how we feel? Our faces are a dynamic canvas, and the portraits shown in Sense of Self demonstrate what a tellingly vivid, personal, and human canvas we all have.