My “Headshot/Mugshot” series is an exercise in presentation and perception.
There have been three sources of inspiration leading to this series. The first, social and mainstream media have focused lately on how young men of color are portrayed in the news. Who is represented with a mugshot? Who is represented with a headshot? Questions of racial and class privilege are raised.
The second, a paper presented at a neuro-aesthetics conference I attended suggested that we as humans are quicker to perceive difference than similarity when presented with a face that is morphed between two individuals. What makes somebody ‘different’?
The third is the Dadaist game of Exquisite Corpse, where different artists each draw different sections of a body and then combine them.
For these portraits, I’ve deliberately made the backgrounds colors that are not in the spectrum of human skin tones. I’ve also deliberately homed in on the facial features, not giving any social or gender cues such as hair or clothing. And in some of the portraits, all of the features belong to the same person; in others, they are mixed up.
When you look at these portraits, do any of the faces look scary? Do any of them look friendly? Why do you think that is?
When you look at these portraits, do you try to assign any racial or ethnic identity to them? Why do you think that is?
When you look at these portraits, do you try to assign a gender identity? Why do you think that is?