Visiting Artist Lecture #1 Madison Dye

Artist: Roaslie Favell

Madison Dye

Date of Visit: April 13, 2010

I watched it online through the LUNA program

I really like Rosalie Favell, and my immediate response to her work was a positive one. Favell works primarily with photography, and incorporates handwritten texts and occasionally Photoshop. The main focus of her work is very personal and deals a lot with self-exploration, which she does through numerous self-portraits, and a revisiting of her cultural heritage. Favell starts her lecture off by telling a personal story from when she was a child. She recalls being in the bathtub trying to “scrub her tan off” and wondering why she was so much darker than many of her friends. Her mother tells her that she is of a complex and diverse heritage, and that she has a great deal of Aborigine blood in her. Favell sites this as the specific moment in her life when she realized she was different, and that she wanted to do everything she could to explore those differences. Early on in her career, she photographs herself and a pervious lover, posing together and looking very happy. When she decides she wants to publish those photographs, after her and her girlfriend had split up on somewhat rocky terms, but her girlfriend will not allow her to release her image. Favell is confronted with the debacle of figuring out how to display the photographs without revealing the identity of her old girlfriend. Her solution is duct tape over the eyes, which is her first demonstration of her interest in how the audience perceives identity. Without the eyes of the figure in the photograph, the viewer is forced to partially construct an identity for them.

The majority of Favell’s work deals with her personal relationships, and familial relations, especially her series titled “Longing and not Belonging” which was inspired by Georgia O’Keefe’s similarly titled exhibit. The pieces in this series are triptychs of color Polaroids displayed against a black background. The images of this series are mostly self-portraits of Favell, both current and old. There are also photographs of nature, old family portraits, and bits and pieces of pop culture that she deemed relevant. Another work that struck me as especially interesting on Favell’s path to self-discovery was a picture she took out of a magazine of Princess Xena, a fictional character that Favell looked up to and was inspired by. Favell Photoshopped her own head onto the Princess’ body, which represented the transformation she reiterated as a change from a shy timid woman, into a fierce confident heroine.

The work that Favell discussed that was by far my favorite was her work titled Hollywoodland Shaman done in 2003. Favell uses her favorite episode of Xena, where the heroine dresses up as a shaman. In the photograph, Favell is dressed up as Xena who is in turn dressed up as a shaman. She wears an authentic Aborigine garment, which had been hand sewn by an Aborigine woman. There are colorful flowers around her, which help to unite the work.

Favell’s lecture was very interesting not only because of her work, but because she was essentially baring her soul to the audience. Her work is like her diary, an account of her life’s journey and how it is now. She shared some very personal stories and events both through her words and through her photographs. I am thankful that she is brave enough to share such personal work with the public.

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