cheryl casteen About
Several themes thread their way through my work and stitch together the portraits I take. Among them are compassionate attention, seeing as a spiritual process and seeing and being seen as a doorway to intimacy. These portraits are also an exploration of constructed identities and behaviors through photographic documentation and collaboration. ___Being seen" is a performative process for all of us. I__™m fascinated by the way in which people chose to alter and distort their images, using their faces and bodies as raw materials.
These photos were taken in my studio with a black curtain hung up as a backdrop. The black background serves to remove all distractions and create a velvety darkness in which the individual shines, a ___glowing body___, floating in the deep space of the studio. The black curtain also serves to create a stage for the subject to act out his or her ideas of self.
The people whose images appear in these photos are my collaborators--they are friends, students from my classes, co-workers, fellow apartment dwellers, and family members--my social fabric. The Hindus have a practice called Darshan which involves the act of seeing the deity embodied in an image or a person as a way of connecting with the divine. I embrace the idea of Darshan in my work--it describes my experience of and approach to photography as a spiritual practice. I see my subjects as being diverse embodiments of the Divine. I concur with British art critic John Ruskin when he said, ___To see is poetry, prophecy, and religion, all in one.___
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