Ever 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.
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!