Every breath we drew (2011- )
Every breath we drew explores the power of identity, desire, and connection through portraits of myself and others. Working within the framework of queer experience and from my actively constructed sense of masculinity, my portraits examine the intersection between private, individual identity and the search for intimate connection with others. I photograph people in their homes, often in their bedrooms, using medium and large format cameras to create a deep, sustained engagement, resulting in an intimate and detailed portrait.
I combine formal portraits, images of couples, self-portraits, and photographs of my own romantic relationship to investigate broader themes of identity and connection while also speaking to my private, individual experience. The photographs of men and masculine individuals act as a kind of mirror; they depict the type of gentle masculinity I am attracted to, yet also the kind I want to embody. Similarly, the photographs of relationships speak to a drive to be seen, understood, and desired through the eyes of a another person; a reflection of the self as the ultimate intimate connection.
By asking others to be vulnerable with me through the act of being photographed, I am laying claim to what I find beautiful and powerful while asking larger questions about how identity is formed, desire is expressed, and intimate connection is sought.
In our society, it is assumed that there are only two genders, both of which come with very specific expectations and roles. I aim to challenge that assumption by portraying people whose identity falls outside of these preconceived notions. Transcendence is a collection of portraits within the transgender and gender variant community. These photographs show that there are an endless number of gender identities, specific to each person, while illustrating that gender identity and biological sex are two distinct constructs. More broadly, they call into question societal expectations about gender roles and how these expectations affect everyone, including those who are not a part of the transgender community.
Through sharing individual experiences, this work honestly and openly portrays a community that is often overlooked, fetishized, or misrepresented. It raises a dialogue about the fluidity of gender and the ways in which our current societal structure does not allow for variations outside of the mainstream. In an effort to increase understanding, these images portray issues unique to the transgender community while also highlighting the shared experience of being human.
Pictures with my mother (2005-present)
I had chest reconstruction surgery on January 5, 2005 at the age of 18. Two weeks later, the first time I could physically handle my 4 x 5 view camera, I made a picture of my mother and I standing topless next to each other. In this photo, the bruises on my skin are still visible and surgical strips hold together the incision that would become my scars My mother stands next to me, proudly exposing not only her own body, but also her unwavering support of me and mine.
In 2010, I once again asked my mother to stand next to me, to re-create the original image, but this time in color. She agreed, and since then, we have been photographing ourselves together in the same pose every year. I am interested in how our bodies have changed, and will continue to change, year after year. We are both aging; my hair is greying; I have added, and sometimes removed, tattoos and piercings. My mother is as beautiful and graceful as ever.
I am interested in how our bodies originated from a similar physical place; I see her face in mine when I look in the mirror, her physicality in my body, but our choices have taken us down different paths, into different bodies.
We plan to continue making these photographs together every year, for as long as we can. It is my hope that they capture the unwavering love between us and that they are also an invitation to viewers to look carefully and without fear, seeing at once the strong love between a mother and child and also two people sharing an honest moment about what it means to truly forge your own path in this world.
A place so as to stay (2008-2010)
A place so as to stay is about people and the ways in which they relate to, and are defined by, their environment. At its core, this work is an exploration of identity and how we come to realize, define, and eventually share who we are with others. By examining the ways that people construct, inhabit, and enjoy spaces, objects, and relationships, I am exploring a larger theme of how we each carefully define our existence in the world.
A Moment Collected: Photographs at the Harvard Art Museum (2008-2009)
In 2008, the Harvard Art Museum closed its doors to the public for a major building renovation, scheduled to take five years. Though the renovation was structurally necessary and long overdue, it also brought with it the ending of an era, completely changing a building that had remained largely untouched since 1927. Made in the two years prior to its closing, these photographs portray the people and the spaces of the museum during a time of impending change. By examining a group of people united by their desire to surround themselves with art, these photographs ask larger questions about the pursuit of passion and the desire we all have to live a life full of meaning. In addition, they speak to the passing of time, the idea of change, and the impermanent and fluid nature of each person’s involvement in a much larger existence.
Coupled is a series of twenty large-format Polaroid photographs of queer couples, taken between 2006 and 2008. Every person has some connection to a female identity, whether past or present. The images are direct and posed, with the same lighting and bold, red background in each image in an attempt to direct the focus entirely onto the subject. The couples are simultaneously unique and similar, becoming almost specimens of a cultural group through repetition of composition. While the images portray a specific group of couples at a historic time, they also raise universal questions about attraction, love, and the nature of relationships.