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New CWAM exhibit  examines self-representation,  truth 

Dani Gagnon
Features Editor

The College of Wooster Art Museum’s (CWAM) spring exhibition, “PICTURE YOURSELF: Selfies, Cellphones and the Digital Age,” delves into the history of selfies that delivered us to our current moment of the selfie stick. On Feb. 2 the exhibit opens, and on Feb. 3 CWAM will hold the opening reception with a gallery talk at 7 p.m.

Anchored by Andy Warhol’s expansive collection of self-portraits, he and five contemporary artists — Daniel Arnold, Sean Fader, Luis Flores, Rollin Leonard and Farideh Sakhaeifar — explore the ever-shifting modes and means of self-representation. Of the many factors that change over the years and affect our presentations of ourselves, technology and our access to it is one of the most influential variables of our self-presentations to others. Each artist in their own work addresses and explores the utility of the selfie.

The exploration of representing truth through artifice is a theme in which artists will never finish finding further nuances. Warhol’s many photo booth quality self-portraits arguably mark a turning point in the tradition of the detached and stylized self-portraits in which artists recast their true appearances to represent an inner or nonrepresentational aspect of themselves.

Questions revolving around identity, truth and representation are omnipresent in “PICTURE YOURSELF.” The detached quality of the many works and their apparent immediacy to strangers begs the question, how truthful is the image? Has the supposedly realistic self-portrait transformed into the stylized selfie or has it always been the same? Have we always performed as ourselves in the world or are we only just now learning to view it as such?

“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 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.”

All the artists in “PICTURE YOURSELF” examine how self-representation is a response to our surroundings and how our presentation can create an intimacy with or distance from our environment.

In the adjacent gallery there is a PICTURE YOURSELF LAB co-designed by student gallery attendants with the supervision and direction of Kitty McManus Zurko, director and curator of the CWAM and co-curator of the exhibition, which is available for taking selfies and performing the self you and your friends wish to represent that given day. Selfies can be submitted to the CWAM for display in the lobby.

Walk-in gallery tours will continue to be available on Tuesdays at noon. On March 30, artist Daniel Arnold will give an artist speech at 7 p.m. CWAM is open Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. 

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