Saturday, December 12, 2009

Betty Esperanza (5)

(Represented by Benude Media, Betty Esperanza and Emery)
The exploration of self-image is arguably the determining constant in anyone’s life, and the most important and enduring concept. As humans, we are more likely to live our lives according to who we think we are than according to who we are objectively, under the dominance of self-perception.
Photographer Karl Duarte has been exploring this subject through photography over many years, and has met with many subjects/models beset by negative self-perception. They chose to take charge of this through posing for him—a potentially empowering move, which expressed how taking charge of aspects of our lives can catalyze greater change.
Betty Esperanza and Emery were two of these subjects, who opted to explore their own images and engage with their personal fears. What they discovered at the other end of Duarte’s lens changed their lives and inspired the creation of BeNude media.
After putting on considerable weight from radiation during a grueling battle with cancer, Betty Esperanza felt ready to free herself from the weight of her past struggle and re-emerge with the lightness of rebirth. To this end, Betty immersed herself in an artistic adventure to take charge of her negative self-image.
Four years post-radiation, and 50 pounds lighter, with a bit of encouragement from her good friend Duarte and her partner Emery, Betty celebrated the culmination of this adventure of self-discovery with a nude photo session. What she experienced throughout the nonstop 3-hour shoot and afterwards upon viewing the moments captured within, became moments she would later mentally earmark for emotional authenticity. Betty experienced the harmonization of who she truly was and who she felt herself to be, and felt elated, alive, and most astonishingly—immortal.
The photo included for submission to the art bank is the favourite of the series. It depicts a consuming moment of cathartic release of pain and negative self-perception, all crystallized in the stillness of a snapshot.
This form of media-nude art photography-has the potential to heal years of self-torture, and to release the creative soul of the subject.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Patricia Lay-Dorsey (4)

self portraits by Patricia Lay-Dorsey

Self portraits are strange animals. For most photographers being at the wrong end of the lens is not our first choice. Besides wasn’t it Narcissus who was so mesmerized by his own reflection in the pond that he forgot to eat and pined away and died? Too much self-absorption can be dangerous.

But there can come a time when the only person who can tell your story is yourself.

That’s where I was when I started this eighteen months ago. I call this essay “Falling Into Place” because, in some strange way, I feel this IS my place, to see the world waist-high rather than face-to-face. Besides, it all started with a fall, a knee-buckling ankle-spraining fall onto an unyielding sidewalk one cold January day.

After the fifth unexplained fall in six months, I saw a neurologist who put me through a series of tests. Two months later he gave me a “75% certain” diagnosis of chronic progressive multiple sclerosis. Within the year he’d changed it to 100%.

Twenty-one years later I wonder who I’d be and what I’d be doing were it not for this unexpected assault on my body. I’m not going to say I’m glad it happened. Sure I’d love to be able to run another marathon, or bike another 200-mile weekend tour, or even open a flip-top can by myself. It’s a real pain to take a half hour to change into my swimsuit, to wet my dress because I couldn’t make it to the toilet in time, to ask for help opening every door that pulls rather than pushes. And more. Much more. Being disabled can really suck.

And it can teach too. Patience, humility, determination, even gratitude. How much I appreciate small things like being able to pick up my camera’s memory card when I drop it (again and again) on the floor. How proud I was last June when I drove by myself the 1300 miles/2092 km to and from Charlottesville, Virginia, and then turned around two months later and drove the same distance to and from Burlington, Vermont. How pleased I am that my claw-like fingers can still hit the shutter release button.

So much of what I show in these portraits is private, the side of my life that no one sees. Until now, that is. And the strange thing about opening my bedroom, my bathroom, my nakedness to view is that my former sense of shame and embarrassment is gone.

I now see my life as a disabled woman is normal in its own way.

Genevieve Thul (3)

Genevieve writes:

I am a devoted reader (or viewer?) of painting2cancers as a young woman with thyroid cancer. Thyroid cancer struck at age 29, and it was a surreal experience. It didn't really sink in until I woke up in the recovery room - still intubated, I couldn't ask any questions. But when I heard the words "total Thyroidectomy with lymph node dissection I knew it meant I had cancer. I'll never forget that moment. I was a bridesmaid in my brother's wedding just 3 days after surgery, and wore a scarf around my neck. I am not self-conscious about my very "nice" scar, but it is symbolic of everything that changed in my life in that one short surgery. I blog about my cancer, life as a mom of 4, grad student, and woman struggling through her faith at

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Kathleen McHugh (2)

I’m interested to see how other women artists create as they are ‘touched' by life.

Kathleen McHugh writes:

I believe that the aim of a visual artist is to create a strong metaphorical world. There are many different genres, intellectual histories, and categories in which artists work to develop and express a metaphorical world in visual language. When I was in school, some of the dominant themes were coming out of minimalism, conceptual art, pop art and gestural abstraction. Before I studied visual art, I studied literature and I felt pulled towards William Blake and the way he overlapped words and pictures to create his metaphorical world full of references and subject matter in a rather emotional messy humanistic way. Judy Chicago and her dinner party were beginning to get critical attention. Narrative art by African American, Hispanic and self-taught outsider artists and assemblage makers was becoming part of the recognized lexicon. Thinking about art created in a dialogue with art (thereby eliminating subject matter and reference outside critical theory) interested me intellectually, but when it came time to create my own metaphor, I was drawn to keep visual company with emotional, visceral narrative artists. To me, this presented the challenge of maintaining the sincerity of naive raw outsider art in combination with the skills and knowledge of context learned in school in order to develop an authentic metaphor. I married and had three children. During the time I was developing this particular visual world as seen in the jpegs, my children were of grade school age. My "studio" was in our home. I had "art everywhere" and wasn't at a point that I could put it in a closet when my daughter had a birthday. A friend offered to throw the party at her house. We all went over there for a slumber party with my young daughter's friends and classmates. In a goodnatured way my daughter said to me, "I don't know if I will be able to fit you into my lifestyle when I grow up". Art is touched by life, and the ordinary habits and routines of living life as an artist are touched by art as well since art is a vocation and not an 8:00am to 5:00pm job.--
Kathleen McHugh

Angela Ferrara (1)