Discomfort is the feeling of uneasiness, anxiety, or embarrassment. When faced with the challenge of developing a senior project I wanted to push myself and force myself out of my comfort zone by doing something unlike anything I had previously done with photography. Through this project I had to approach strangers and ask them to be completely vulnerable to not only me but also my camera. I had to enter the homes of these strangers and shortly after meeting for the first time photograph them in their most intimate moments, engaging in sex. Being in such a foreign situation, I nearly had a panic attack on the way to my first shoot. Each shoot provided its own unique reason for being uncomfortable and challenged me to confront my own discomfort with sexuality.
The title Friends of Dorothy refers to label in reference to queer identity. The term was used as a way for queer people to identify each other without outing themselves. This was necessary in order to not make others uncomfortable with their queerness. The theme of the project was designed not only to push my artistic boundaries but to also face my anxieties relating to human sexuality. This work attempts to challenge traditional notions of the male gaze by literally representing the gaze of a young queer female who is embracing queer sexuality and sex. The fact that this body of work was denied from the exhibition only reinforces the notion that the representations of sex and sexuality that do not conform to certain traditions make people uncomfortable.
It’s easy to bury and ignore the things in life that we are uncomfortable with without digging deeper into why they make us feel the way they do. Unfortunately Loyola decided to take the easy way out and ignore their discomforts. In planning, shooting, and editing this body of work, I was not able to avoid my discomforts and sought answers within myself. I hope that others who view my work will look inward, if only briefly, and perhaps question the discomforts they may also possess in relation to queer sex and sexuality.
Friends of Dorothy was inspired partly by the work of Jill Posener and Tee Corinne both of whom dealt with censorship for depicting queer sexual relations. Jill Posener stated about her work, “If we don’t take public spaces, nobody will hear us”. I was and continue to be inspired by this quote as I struggle with censorship of something I feel is important to discuss and reflect on.
My project, entitled Friends of Dorothy - Censored, focuses on the ways cultural discomfort of queerness is handled in an institutional setting. Friends of Dorothy - Censored depicts a scrambled composite of images of people engaging in queer sex acts. The bisection of these images is on the one hand violent—bodies are cut and reconfigured, mirroring the disapproval many feel around depictions of queer sexuality. At the same time, the abstraction of these images serves to equalize the various forms of sexuality depicted, offering the message that people of all creeds are equally entitled to their own experiences without judgement. The rearrangement abstracts the image to the point where it is not possible to see what is taking place within the image, protecting the viewer from being uncomfortable with queer sexuality and perpetuating the idea that queerness is something to need protecting from.
A collection of portraits.
Antique Mall Nightmare.
Antiques malls are a product of American consumerism. Rapid production and selling leads to a lot of product getting left behind. Old collectables and junk, often with little practical purpose end up in antique malls and filler their shelves. Since I was a child I would go to antique malls with my parents and wander the jam-packed aisles getting lost in the vestige. These old collectibles have haunted me since I was young in a recurring nightmare I often have. I get separated from my mother and lost in the vast aisles where the ghost of American consumerism transform and overtake me. This body of work is an attempt to share this antique mall nightmare.
"WOMEN ARE SUPPOSE TO BE..."
I visited Auschwitz and Auschwitz II – Birkenau in February 2016. While I didn’t intend to make a photo series during my visit I found myself extremely moved by the experience and wanted to share what I saw. This place was so haunting, emotional, and eye-opening. I spend roughly 3 hours on the grounds and left both physically and emotionally exhausted. Poland in February is bitter cold and even in my layers and proper attire I was miserable. I can not begin to image enduring these conditions in little clothing for months on in. The cold mist and drizzle only escalated the feeling of horror. An erie silence covers the camp. These pictures don’t begin to show what I experienced here as a lot of areas do not allow photographs because the scenes are so horrific. Although I have no personal family ties to Auschwitz or other German death camps I feel as though I came out of this experience a different person. It’s an experience I feel like everyone who is able should do. I want these photos to be a reminder of the horrors of the past and what can easily happen again if we forget to love and care for one another.
Through the Loyola Lens: Timothy Gilfoyle
Commitment to Caring
In 2017 I had the opportunity to work on a cross cultural project with a small group of students from Moscow, Russia and Chicago, Illinois. We each worked on projects about an aspect of our city that we were passionate about. I did my piece on a local Chicago shelter, the Anti-Cruelty Society.
Through the Loyola Lens: Tamara Franco and Patricia Brito
Her Darkest Demon
I spend the spring semester of 2016 at the John Felice Rome Center. During that semester I was in a film class where we spent the semester writing, filming, and editing our own films in small groups. I was responsible for shooting and editing this piece