There are two aspects to self presentation, what you highlight and what you hide, what you show off and what you keep contained. I am a fashion blogger, I spend a lot of time thinking about how to present myself. What’s unique about fashion as an artistic medium is that with fashion, you express yourself every day. What I realized about myself, though, in creating these two pieces is that although I present myself as a creative, confident, and put together individual, behind the scenes my clothes overflow from closet drawers and sit in heaps on the floor, acting as a sort of obstacle course for all who enter. It is particularly unexpected that I have an extremely messy room because I spend a lot of time thinking about fashion: how it is personal yet mass marketed, something that is largely thought of as superficial but has the power to inspire, publicizing my outfits and philosophies to my blog. I would be horrified if anyone knew how poorly I care for my clothes, let alone how much of a slob I really am. In my two responses, “The Medium is the Mess” and “Immaculate Containment,” I reveal my sloppy side and explore the idea of self presentation: the conflict between the people we want to present ourselves as and the versions of us that we contain and keep secret.
In “The Medium is the Mess,” I am purposefully not in the image, yet there is a trace of someone weeding through the closet and stepping over the clothing in the foreground. I decided to use soft pastel for “The Medium is the Mess” because soft pastel is inherently a very messy medium. It is always messy to use and often times in how it is executed. With “The Medium is the Mess,” I wanted to create a piece that although obviously a closet, with blotches of color and a contrast of blurred and distinguished lines, becomes resonant of a vivid and colorful abstract piece. I can imagine Mark Rothko and Willem de Kooning squinting at my closet and loving the colors. What could usually be picked out as a dress or a sweatshirt becomes obscured in a mess of color. Despite being confronted by a closet, the viewer does not concern herself with picking out an outfit. What is most apparent is the mess.
“Immaculate Containment” is where I contain the mess. I am dressed in blue. I would like to come off as calm, cool, and collected and so my expression matches. The dress is avant garde and cleanly draped. I imagine myself as a Roman statue at the Met, a dress of almost neo-classical design. It is an easy piece to wear but it always comes off incredibly put together, thought through, and stylish. I drew “Immaculate Containment” in colored pencil to add, as the title references, an immaculate and intentional quality to my contained mess.
“The Medium is the Mess” and “Immaculate Containment” are meant to be viewed simultaneously. These are both a different take on a self portrait. I wanted the two pieces to be the same size, (30” x 44”) so that when hung together, side by side, viewers can draw the comparison between how I present myself, the media I chose, and the techniques I executed. As a next step, I would like to recreate the images represented in “The Medium is the Mess” and “Immaculate Containment” on the same sized sheets of paper, but exchanging the two media, the soft pastel for the colored pencil and the colored pencil for the soft pastel. In total there would be four pieces to expand my concept and further the series. Soft pastel if used on an alternate version of “Immaculate Containment” would become bright, vivid, and colorful. It would be a different interpretation of how we present ourselves, considering how fashion can empower and inspire confidence. To create another version of “The Medium is the Mess” in colored pencil would show the details of each garment and further explore how my clothes are an extension of my personality. The four pieces when hung together would begin to address the complexity of who we are, how we define ourselves, what we project, and what we choose to contain.
My Look in “Immaculate Containment:” Comme des Garçons