Ciara Coppersmith’s “Self Project”

Posted by: Roy Wilbur

The following is Ciara Coopersmith’s “Letter of Intent” for her “Self Project.”

“When I thought of what self meant I immediately thought of one of my biggest struggles: decision making. I have always had problems with deciding between my emotions and my logical side. My heart and brain are always in competition and to portray this I wanted to personify them in a way that showed my internal conflict. I decided then that I wanted to do body paint and photography because I wanted to really step out of my comfort zone and do something that I had never done before. For my “brain” I wanted to show her as my inner voice, which I have always characterized as female.  I always feel like in my mind there are only two options: right and wrong.  So, to represent this I painted my model black and white. The black words all over her body are to illustrate the constant jumble of thoughts that are always rushing through my head. For my “heart” I wanted to use a male model because of my attraction to males. I also wanted to show my heart as my own personal representation of feelings, bright and colorful, because I have always thought that feelings were housed in the heart. I used mainly red because that is the main color I associate with hearts and love.

I positioned my photographs in a downward triangle because I wanted to draw people’s eyes through the story and down to the climactic ending. Compositionally, I wanted to first show how my heart and brain start off as if they were introducing themselves and then making their case. I also wanted to progressively show the built-up tension as they tried to vie for my attention as the pictures funneled down until the two were actually fighting over me. In reality my heart is usually the one who wins, which I showed in my last photograph.

My process began with first securing my two models, which wasn’t an easy feat, and then trying to work out a day that would work for them as well as my photographers. When the day was finally set, I began to get all of my paints and other materials together. Then when that set day rolled around we ended up having to push it back a day because something came up for both my models. So we decided to do it the very next day. It took three hours to paint my first model and two to paint my second model. And then on top of that it took about 1-2 hours to do the photo shoot. Within the next few days I collected the photographs from both of my photographers – there were over 400, total – and started the painstaking task of sorting through them. It took about two days for me to settle on twelve photographs. While I was picking the pictures I was considering the order in which I wanted to display them to thoroughly convey my idea the best. It then took about a week to go through the pictures a crop them the way that I wanted them, combine the three pictures for the last picture, edit them, and touch them up. During this editing process I also solidified the presentation organization. Then over two days I had all the photographs printed.”

Ciara Coppersmith is a first-year student at Moore College of Art & Design.