More self portraits from the late 80s and early 90s.

Horizontal self portrait acrylic on paper by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne Forbes 1989 or 1990The sheer quantity of self-portraits figurative artists do in art school is mind-boggling.

These were either Fall 1989 or Spring 1990, in the Minneapolis College of Art and Design Painting classes of Elizabeth Erickson or Jackie Kielkopf. It’s hard to see but the one above has collaged paper on it, bits of golden light and green shadow.

Self portrait acrylic on paper prob early 1990 Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne Forbes

What’s fascinating about the one above is that it has a secret collage element – the collar of my shirt.

In those years I very often wore pale blue button-down shirts accrued from boyfriends’ fathers’ closets. The collar here is made of the inside of what I am quite sure was my paycheck envelope from the bakery where I worked. It was a hidden acknowledgement of how proud I was to have it together enough to hold a job, attached to the painting as a crisp collar.

I don’t think the two perspectives of my face were meant to represent any kind of duality, though – I just had to do two angles and one came out kinda weird!

Self portrait collage on paper prob early 1990 Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne ForbesAll these painted/collaged self-portraits on paper from this period seem to be about studying color temperature in light and shadow.

I have vague memories of setting up a strong light source in my very dark first apartment.

Vertical self portrait acrylic on paper by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne Forbes 1989 or 1990And this one I have no idea. Same period.

My hair was permed! I loved it honestly. It was great. Self portrait acrylic on paper horizontal prob early 1990 Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne Forbes

Self portrait summer 1990 painting apartment by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne Forbes 1989 or 1990This one is from summer 1990, in ballpoint.

I drew myself, painting my new apartment completely white. Although I really was that thin at that point, it’s not a good self-portrait – I normally draw my short, thick neck accurately!!

But now for something completely different!

Wow, 2.5 years of intensive CSA survivor therapy, lots of sexual harassment from comic editors, some feminist art school community, two years of chosen celibacy, a haircut, Thelma and Louise, and one Take Back the Night into my recovery, I was really, really fucking angry!!!

Vertical fantastical self portrait acrylic on paper by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne Forbes 1992I actually remember the suit I am wearing in this painting, where I’m hacking at the lake of blood the patriarchy has created.

It was camel-colored, I literally had a beige suit, with those folded-to-the-elbow sleeves that were big in women’s suits in the early 90s. I wore a lot of suits for a while, when I was working as a courtroom artist and trying to finally break into comics. I had those polyester “shells” too, little sexless cami things you wore under your suit jackets.

I was interested in “passing privilege” and what it would feel like to be mistaken for a straight!

Just the ghost of my own wrath Summer 1991 Self portrait Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne ForbesThese two watercolor drawings are attached together on a piece of illustration board, like a comic.

I believe they were done at the same time, Fall 1991, but the first image shows me a year younger, in 1990, and the second in Corte Madera after seeing “Terminator 2”.

I feel that way all the time July 1991 Self portrait Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne Forbes

Only these last two pieces have ever been photographed; no modern media record of the rest existed – if we had a fire or flood they would just be gone forever. And of course, I am the only person who knows when they were made and why, the story of the pictures.

As a highly-vulnerable person with asthma and auto immune illness, it seems more important than ever to document my life’s work. Not morbid, just pragmatic!

I am incredibly grateful to my Patreon Patrons, whose monthly financial support makes it possible for me to take time to document my art archives.

 

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