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Senior Art Exhibit 2008 - Chelsea Akins

Chelsea Akins

What is a self-portrait?

Most people would answer this with an easy definition — a picture of yourself. I am not one of those people, however. I have wrestled with this question for the last eight months, knowing that my answer to it would determine my work as an artist. To me, a self-portrait is more than an image of one's own visage. It is an outward, tangible display of inward, intangible realities. What I discovered as I delved into this artistic process was that I had personal, emotional, and spiritual "struggles" that I had previously left unaddressed. The year of processing and painting for this exhibition was a time of complete turmoil and joy. I shed tears, and enjoyed full-fledged laughter. The inspiration was taken from authentically identifying my emotions, soul, and character as not only human but also alive.

Quite frankly, painting self-portraits was the last subject for this exhibit that I wanted to do. I chose to do self portraits anyway, though, because an advisor of mine pushed me to look inward and then to convey that personal reflection through my art. This is something that I rarely do, as I am generally a happy and optimistic person, and I find it difficult to display my darker and more somber thoughts to the world around me. As I began this process, however, I was caught in the middle of a lower, almost depressing time for me. These paintings are a reflection of that time and of the progression of these uncharacteristic feelings within me.

There is a redeeming purpose in these pieces as well, though. Through the toil and tears, frustration and disappointment, within myself the real foundation of my faith in Jesus Christ kept me grounded. Jesus himself took time to reflect and remember—these paintings are a result of me doing the same.

The greatest words of inspiration that I have leaned on during this time have come from the Bible: God's breath to me.

"Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you. Make level paths for your feet and take only ways that are firm. Do not swerve to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil." Proverbs 4:25-27

"The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise." Psalms 51:17

"I learned God-worship when my pride was shattered. Heart-shattered lives ready for love don't for a moment escape God's notice." Psalms 51 (The Message translation)

Thank you for viewing my labor of emotional work.


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