“The Millennials” are intimate portraits of young people I know and emphasizes collaboration to determine composition and color palette. In this series, Interpretations, Darwin’s selfies offered a unique opportunity to give a stronger voice to his ideas in the context of the project, and to develop images I would not have imagined.
I asked to appropriate his self-portraits as the basis for observational drawings, without his explanations, thereby creating multiple layers of meaning. The result is a triptych, Interpretations, that expresses different aspects of his identity, filtered through another’s eyes. The names evolved out of the way we naturally referred to each pose: The Red Kimono, Oscar Wilde, and The Mandarin Dress.
For technical reasons, some things changed as the drawings evolved, always with Darwin’s approval. The rest is his, and reflect what he thinks about and how he lives. His identification with the late 1800’s coincides with my love for the art of the fin de siècle and early twentieth century, but the directness of his approach and his calm acceptance of himself are distinctly contemporary.
It would be easy to interpret his constructs as a rebellion against his Catholic upbringing, but Darwin’s complex identity begs a deeper understanding. Our current social acceptance of alternate identities, although certainly ranging along a continuum, is strong enough to allow him to be open about who he is. And who that is, we leave to the viewer to discern.