Selfie Gallery shows students without masks

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Kate Beckler and Nia Huff

Entering the Fisher gallery, viewers will find the walls lined with selfies — images, videos, and even a reflection within an image. The pictures are loosely hung by thumbtacks and represent various interpretations of the selfie. “This is the first time we have a gallery through the lens of the selfie,” Studio Arts Technician Emily Lombardo said. 

The art department came up with the idea to put on a selfie gallery show last year. “At the end of the year, we came in and were all still wearing masks, so we thought let’s get to know each other a little bit more,” Lombardo said. “We hoped it would be different than just the quick selfie, thinking about how you are trying to show something about yourself in your selfie.”

Thus, the goal of this art exhibit is for the community to get to know each other. “Doesn’t have to be each other by name — you can get a vibe of what our community is by coming into the room,” Lombardo said. 

The gallery, featuring a variety of color palettes, utilizes technology to display photos and videos as well as drawings done digitally, on tin foil, and on paper. The exhibit includes artwork from Middle Division (MD) and Upper Division (UD) students as well as faculty members such as Music Department Chair Timothy Ho and Head of MD Javaid Khan.

When creating this exhibit, Lombardo had a specific vision she was trying to achieve. “I definitely wanted to have a looser vibe; I usually hang something in here a little bit neat about it, but I wanted this to have a more ‘in my bedroom’ or ‘up on posters’ a very casual vibe,” they said. 

The Arts Department drew inspiration for the gallery show from the difficulties presented to the school community during the pandemic. “We are going into another year of having to wear masks and not being able to see each other’s faces all the time,” Lombardo said. “This gives people the opportunity to take pictures or show themselves without the mask.”

Like Lombardo, Visual Arts Department Chair Dr. Anna Hetherington felt the gallery would be a good opportunity to see the whole face of students and faculty. “I think I was actually talking to Mr. Khan and Lombardo about how everyone is in masks again and how we never get to see everyone’s faces and how great it would be to have walls full of people’s representation of themselves,” Hetherington said. 

According to Lombardo, a selfie allows artists to express themselves in a way that is different from a self-portrait. “It’s a little bit different when you put a selfie in the context of an art gallery, there is no social media, you are not on a device.” A selfie in an art gallery is not the same photo that is posted on Instagram, but a window into the life of the artist, she said.

For Hetherington, a selfie is much more than just a picture. “Any time you represent yourself or anything in the world, it is part of our visual culture, and if it is part of our visual culture, we can consider it art,” she said.  

Since the gallery will be up until November 5, the collection of work is still growing. “We are still totally down to add more selfies everywhere; this selfie show is available to continue to grow in whatever way,” Lombardo said. 

Serena Bai (10) is one of the artists featured in the gallery. “My drawing was originally a drawing for my art class homework, but when I heard about the art gallery, I wanted to put more effort into developing the piece,” she said. 

The selfie gallery allowed Bai a way into the art community. “Last year because of COVID, I didn’t really participate in any school events, but this year, I really wanted to do more with the activities that I’m passionate about,” she said. 

The process of creating Bai’s art was lengthy — it included many sketches that adjusted the lighting and style. Over the past ten years she has spent drawing, Bai realized that even with smaller changes, she will never be completely satisfied with her own work. “There comes a point where you have to decide to just let it be and not change anything anymore.” 

Bai hopes that viewers will recognize her passion for art and acknowledge the artistic process. “I hope people will see the time and effort it takes to develop a piece of art as well as the inspiration and story behind it.”