“I Am…” Artist Statement

Kristen Haling

The idea of womanhood is always evolving. It changes throughout history and what women can do today is so much more than what they were allowed to do many years ago. Even in the past few years, women have made huge strides to stand up for themselves and other women. The project “I Am…” is a series of portraits that are designed to show the different layers a woman can possess. The layers within this series are emotional, physical, and unseen characteristics within each woman. 

 These layers are revealed through the use of Digital Photography and Graphic Design. Some characteristics are concealed, leaving room for interpretation, while others are very evident. The  subjects in these photographs come from different backgrounds and have different stories to tell.  Each piece is unique to the subject based on their own spoken words, the emotions they show, the colors they chose, and the physical features of their beauty. This series is designed to bring women together. There is a need for women to show their layers to the world. To show who they are and all they can be. This is evident by the amount of women that came to me and knew how important it is for the voices to be heard.  

The work of Paula Scher is an impactful influence on my work. Her work in typography, specifically with the New York Public Theatre, pushed the idea of including text within my work. Her typefaces inspired my use of typography in a different way. By using bold text the beautiful layers of each woman were able to show through . Another influence for this project was the Fauvist Movement. Throughout this series I used Henri Matisse’s method, seeking light through the opposition of color. Using contrasting colors allows for light to be brought to his paintings in a new way. Matisse uses color to structure his compositions and create unexpected forms. I adopted Matisse’s use of color and brought it to photography. I used colors each woman chose to structure my compositions and I found light through the opposition of color. The light and color gave a stronger emotional effect to the compositions that a traditional portrait would be lacking. 

Women are powerful and sometimes do not understand all they can be. Women supporting women is exactly what helps us to accept our layers and know that we are all different yet share characteristics as well. When looking at this series, study each woman’s piece separately, make assumptions, realizations, and new ideas. Try to grasp their emotions and layers. Then step back and study all the pieces together, their differences and similarities, how each one supports another.