Charles Bird King's portrait of Cherokee politician John Ridge
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Portrait of John Ridge
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In Search of My Selfie

photo 2

photo 2Ever have one of those moments where you make an off-hand joke about something and then find out that you were actually serious and now the “joke” is taking over your life? For me that happened as I was planning a teacher workshop on portraiture.

Now let me be frank up front. I have never been particularly inclined toward portraits or taking the time to get to know the people in them, so when I had to face portraiture as the subject of a workshop, I was a little dismayed. At some point in the process I remember making the joke that I should do the class on selfies because they are a form of self-portraiture, but I do not remember the point at which I started taking myself seriously.

As a result of my “joke” I have just finished a  month-long immersion into the ins and outs of selfie culture, provided by two very dedicated teenage tutors who were not afraid of the challenge of dragging an out-of-touch and unconnected  museum educator into the world of selfies and Instagram. Because of my newfound interest in selfies, I have now held a selfie round table with teens; a teacher workshop on selfies, self-portraiture, and Instagram; have collaborated with an elementary art teacher to develop classroom applications and a presentation proposal; and have worked with a school group who will be coming to do the “selfie project” at the Museum at the end of May—and I am just getting warmed up. So let me share a few things I have found out about selfies so far on my journey.

Selfie with John Baldessari sculpture, Crystal Bridges.

Selfie with John Baldessari sculpture, Crystal Bridges.

  1. Selfies are something you take for yourself, but you share with the world.
  2. Selfies make history more personal because you can see the people involved in historical events as they are unfolding.
  3. To avoid the embarrassing selfie, don’t get so involved in the “self” aspect that you fail to notice the whole composition of the picture.
  4. Filters are an awesome way to modify selfies and your filter should match the mood of your composition.
  5. Selfies are a great way to show that you are comfortable with who you are.

 

Editor Linda DeBerry with

Editor Linda DeBerry’s selfie with John Peto’s selfie…

Self-portraits in the Crystal Bridges collection can be looked at and discussed in the same way you would a selfie on Instagram or any other social media site. My favorite painting for this is Self-Portrait with Rack Picture by John Peto. I invite you to get together to discuss who you think he is, and what he is telling the world about himself—by taking a good look at his self-portrait (selfie). So go find your selfie!

Got selfies at the Museum you’d like to share?  Upload them to Instagram with the hashtag #CBportrait!

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