This body of work is based on significant and insignificant women in the Bible. It is the combination of words and image creating unison. It brings attention to the woman as well as words that are used to describe her. I chose to focus on this because of the significance between the type and the image. These are women who are written about and therefore the type is important to the image. Women in the Bible frequently get overlooked or glanced over. I want to help people see the impact and important roles each woman had and the significance in the simple fact that they were named or briefly mentioned. They have a story to tell and it is not always pleasant.
Portraiture has been a reoccurring emphasis of my work for several years now. There is so much that can be said through a person’s facial features that have always been captivating to me. Within a portrait there is a sense of sensitivity, a vulnerability that is captured. It is almost like bursting the personal bubble and walking into what a person’s true thoughts are. There is a certain quality in each person’s face that captures their character and personality. If this quality can be captured than, no matter what else is done to the portrait, it can be recognizable as that person. In this body of work I worked at creating a glimpse into what each woman’s personality and character were and have it shine through the models.
The models chosen for this body of work were purposefully chosen because of their diversity and age range. When looking for models I looked for a variety of features and personalities, because in portraiture the personality of the model can be beneficial to the outcome of the photograph. The biblical women that I chose for this body of work are from a variety of cultures so I wanted the features of each model to represent this diversity. While most of these biblical women were Israeli, they were from different time periods and were influenced by other races and cultures. I wanted this to be represented as well as give the viewing audience a means to relate with the biblical women. In the models I have represented, white, black, Hispanic, Asian, middle Eastern, and Biracial. This diversity represents the diversity of the biblical women as well as the body of Christ.
As a girl growing up in the church I was frequently confused about my role as a Christian girl. There was a debate between whether women should be in ministry or not and what their ministry could be. I felt called to ministry at a very young age and wrestled with what my place in the body of Christ is. When I started really looking into scripture I realized the significance of so many powerful leading women. Not just Ruth and Esther but Deborah and Lydia who defied cultural norms and were leaders in a male dominating society. I realized the significance of Priscilla being mentioned frequently alongside her husband and even Tabitha who made such a difference in people’s lives that they would not even let her die. These women along with many more made me realize that I too have a significant place in the body of Christ, whether my name is just mentioned in passing like Phoebe or if there is a whole book written about me like Ruth and Esther. It is not about who is better or more equipped to serve God, it’s about recognizing that God created each one of us for a purpose and that what we do and say can have a lasting impact. These women in the Bible did not do what they did because they knew they would be written about in scripture, they did what they did to serve God and in that have a lasting legacy. Each person in the Bible is remembered for a reason, whether it is because of something good or evil, their stories or names are significant to the unfolding of God’s redemptive story.
Through emphasizing these biblical women I hope to open the door to women and girls who have struggled with knowing whether they are worthy to do the things they feel called to because of who they are or where they have come from. Each of the women I have portrayed has their own unique story and yet each one was used by God.
The photographic process of each piece is important to the body of work because it brings to life the women that are written about. The Bible does not describe how old most of these women are so I chose to depict a variety of ages. With each photograph I was intentional about where the light was coming from and how much light I wanted in the portrait. Some of them I wanted a more dramatic lighting while in others a soft, overall glow. The lighting and angles were arranged in specific ways depending on the woman I was trying to depict. I incorporated different props to further depict and clarify who each woman is. I was also intentional about what part of their story I was depicting. For example, with Miriam I chose to depict her as a young girl still in Egypt and Rebekah a young shepherdess watching over her father’s flocks. Through the lighting and the emotion I was able to evoke from each model, I was able to capture a piece of the biblical women and show a glimpse of her story.
I chose to work with type and photography because I feel like these mediums work really well with my overall goal of portraying women in the Bible. The type represents them being in the written word of God while the photographs bring them to life as recognizable real people and not just another name in the Bible. These mediums were chosen because the simplicity and clean quality they lend to the overall look of the pieces. I love how the photographs are each slightly different and brings out the diversity and uniqueness of each character. All of this adds to their relatability in that every person is different but is significant in their own way.
The type and fonts are important to the pieces because it is what tells each woman’s story. The type represents the word of God as well as the person mentioned. I really like how the photo comes through the type and creates a unified and complete image. The type adds a whole new dimension to the photo that is not there without it. Working the fonts and choosing words to include were the most challenging aspects of this body of work. It is such an important part of each piece and the most time consuming part.
I chose to print each piece on canvas because of the texture that it has. The fabric texture of the canvas brings an added element to the fabric in each image. The textures within each portrait is important to me because it adds a tangible quality to each woman and by printing this body of work on canvas those textures are more easily seen.