The 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.
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!
All 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.
And this one I have no idea. Same period.
My hair was permed! I loved it honestly. It was great.
Probably also Fall 1989 or winter 1990, a sweet and happy self-portrait on paper.
This 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!!
Below, a self portrait with thoughts of various men I was involved with, from that summer.
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!!!
I 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!
These 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”.
These last two drawings are from my last year of art school, ’91-’92.
They are about the struggle of artist’s block.
Look at that mournful baby Suz! Or baby Rach, as I was known at the time.
I don’t struggle a lot with self esteem around my work – I believe I’m an important artist. But we all have hard days at the easel.
Only two of these 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 so grateful to my Patrons on Patreon, whose monthly financial support makes it possible for me to take time to document my art archives.