Melissa Peterson Art

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No One Does It Like You                                                                     

Artist Statement                                                          Work

The face is the most descriptive thing with which to identify an individual. We may look similarly to others in physical appearance, but still this is the most readily available resource we have to identify others with. We share personality traits in common, interests in common, speech and language patterns in common. On paper, and in personality tests, we can easily be mistaken for someone else.

We have clothes that allow us to fit in with a particular group; we ascribe to their rules for our dress in order to be socially identified with them. But our faces? Nothing short of plastic surgery could really change the way we look.

So how do we identify an individual whose face is obliterated? In this series, I have chosen to experiment with the tradition of portraiture. Traditionally, realistic portraiture has always been utilized as a way of documenting a person. From what they are wearing to the way they were painted, we can infer what kind of person they were as well as a general idea of what they looked like. The movement of realism generally gives us the most accurate information of what the world around us looks like. Approaching identity in this way gave me the ability to address individuality in a much more concrete way. If the tradition dictates that portraiture be specific to the individual, and one doesn't believe in the concept of the individual, how does this artist go about producing work in this manner?

Through this exploration, I have given you all the information you would generally need. Really, the person is only missing approximately ten percent of what would typically be included in a portrait. Yet, subtracting that ten percent leaves the viewer without a frame of reference, without the ability to identify any sort of individual that would have been otherwise present if the ten percent was left in tact. Would you have noticed if the bottom ten percent had been taken out?

By taking away their ability to be identified, I have stripped them of their potential individuality. The viewer can simply exchange their face for anyone else's who may have a similar clothing style, body type or hair cut as the person pictured. Is it sad that we can be so easily replaced or displaced? 

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No One Does It Like You series. Copyright 2010 MP

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