Selfie ‘Exposed’ in College of Wooster Art Museum Exhibition
Andy Warhol’s self portraits included in “PICTURE YOURSELF: Selfies, Cellphones, and the Digital Age”
WOOSTER, Ohio — The ubiquitous selfie has been around much longer than people think, and The College of Wooster Art Museum (1220 Beall Ave.) will explore its history as well as its impact in “PICTURE YOURSELF: Selfies, Cellphones, and the Digital Age.” The exhibition, which opens Feb. 2 and continues through April 10, features works by the iconic Andy Warhol and five contemporary artists — Daniel Arnold, Sean Fader, Luis Flores, Rollin Leonard, and Farideh Sakhaeifar — each of which critiques and updates the selfie.
“The works by these artists ask us to rethink selfies as something other than vanity projects for public presentation,” says Leah Mirakhor, assistant professor of English at Wooster and co-curator of the exhibition. “Instead, created with refracted, distorted, and manipulated technologies, these artists shed light on how we perform the self in and for the world.”
Warhol, the patriarch of the modern selfie, began taking “famously detached self-portraits” in dime-store photo booths in the 1960s, according to Kitty McManus Zurko, director and curator of The College of Wooster Art Museum (CWAM). In this exhibition, Warhol casts himself as the subject for analysis in a series of self-portraits (1963-1986) that have been translated into wallpaper by Flavor Paper (Brooklyn, N.Y.), produced in collaboration with The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. “While Warhol drew and painted self-portraits long before he began to use photos as source imagery for his silkscreened paintings and prints,” says Zurko, “it is in the spirit of this rote and mechanical portrait style that informed the artist’s work until his death in 1987.” Likewise, Flores examines the relationship between masculinity and performance in his knitted, life-size image of himself on an iPhone with a sign on the wall in front that reads, “Whatever you want it to be.”
Arnold and Sakhaeifar appear more subtly in their photographs, creating a “fleeting, almost ghostly” image according to Mirakhor in which “the self is present in the faces of strangers.” Leonard and Fader also distort the self, says Mirakhor, “but concentrate on technological manipulations and digitally and socially engaged spaces to do so.
“The artists in ‘PICTURE YOURSELF’ highlight how self-representations are acute responses to the world we inhabit as well as testaments to versions of ourselves that we look away from, close, or seek greater intimacy with,” says Mirakhor. “Together, these artists examine how we can see more clearly by obscuring, refracting, and reflecting against a backdrop that betrays who others (and ourselves) imagine us to be.”
The opening reception for “PICTURE YOURSELF” will be Feb. 3 from 6:30-8 p.m. with a gallery talk at 7 p.m. There will also be an artist talk by Daniel Arnold on March 30 at 7 p.m. in Sussel Gallery. In addition to the exhibition, there is a PICTURE YOURSELF LAB available for taking selfies and submitting them to the CWAM for display in the museum lobby. CWAM staff assistance in the LAB will be available throughout the run of the exhibition, with extended museum hours on Feb. 10 and Feb. 17 from 4-6 p.m., during which visitors can create their own selfie. Additionally, tours will be available each Tuesday at noon.
The CWAM is open Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 1-4 p.m. The museum will be closed March 12-28 for spring break. Additional information is available by phone (330-263-2388) or online.