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Photograph - Digital Photography
"Ass" is a part of photographer Mary Ely's self portrait series: M.E. Yes, Mary Ely has a sense of humor! She grew up on a farm that had many donkeys and mules on it. When she was younger and had friends over, they would get a hoot out of all the donkeys when they started braying all at once. Another note to this self portrait is that all of us are probably asses at some point in our lives.
Mary Ely is an artist, photographer, and graphic designer from the great Show-Me-State Missouri. She regularly photographs herself in direct and confronting ways. As she describes her motivation, "I think when it comes down to it; most of us are in some way still trying to figure ourselves out continually through life. I think we realize it hard to look in the mirror sometimes and even harder to not only look into the mirror, but show it to all of those around."
The concept for the M.E. series of photographs was born from a desire to show others the dissonance I felt between the differing environments I had lived in. I was born and raised in the country, but I lived in the city for a while, also. After living in the city for almost 10 years, I moved back to my hometown and small town life again. I wanted to photograph these different environments, life in the country compared to life in the city, and try to visually show the incompatibility I felt between them. However, the incompatibility isnít so much between the environments; the feeling of incompatibility comes from me feeling as though I donít belong in either environment. I realized I was just showing the different environments. The photos didnít say much about me or any incompatibility I felt about living in such different spaces. The concept needed to evolve.
I believe the concept really began to evolve on its own the moment I started taking pictures. I found it was easier to just forget focusing on city versus country photographs and to purely focus on just me and my life. The pictures I had already taken up to this point were also telling me a division of city and country was not needed, as most of the pictures didnít fit into either of those categories. The subject matter in many of the photos was simply recreated poignant moments within my life. Even though they were recreated moments, I felt there was an intense and intriguing honesty within the photos. Then I began to dwell more on those types of moments, different points, and stages within my life.
When others ask me what my work is like I say, ďItís kind of like Cindy Shermanís work except I donít dress up as different characters; I model different but true versions of myself.Ē Iím trying to capture certain moments of my life in the present, but some of these moments can range anywhere from my childhood to the present. As a result, wardrobe and makeup and hair changes do play a role in my photographs. I dress up for a photograph in trying to keep some integrity of when a particular moment occurred. Iím not trying to become someone else.
I believe honesty is the key point in the M.E. series of photographs. There are usually two sides to every story and two sides to every person, if not more. Many times we only get to see one side of a person, the side the individual wants us to see. Why do we have such fear when it comes to revealing truths about our whole selves? The answer to that is probably societal pressure. Of course, there are rebels to that societal pressure out there that have the courage to be their true self at all times. I admire them.
December 1st, 2012
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