For my final project, I decided to continue working on the subject of representation and identity. In thinking back to the beginning of class on what I had said I wanted to get out of the course, I spoke more about exploring the relationship of representation to what I do at work. Since I’m not currently enrolled in a specific grad program, a lot of the work I did this semester involved things that relate to the work that I do with the Diversity Programs Office in CFANS. Identity and theory around identity development are often key components in training around intercultural development and competency. In being part of a staff that does a great deal of training on these topics, it’s a subject that I have had to think a lot about outside of class, particularly during this semester.
It is often said that in order for you to understand and work with difference, you must first start with an awareness and baseline of understanding yourself: what is your culture, what are your values, where do these values come from, and so on. In my last project, I pieced myself together with images that I chose to represent different parts of my identity. In this project, I chose to take two of the largest pieces from my image and draw them out further by making a book for each piece. I chose the cow from my lower body and made the book V is for Vegetarian. V is for Vegan: Eating with Emily. I also chose the starry pink background from my head and made M is for Misadventurous: a Morning with Emily. I chose these pieces, not only because they were two of the largest images, but also because they are most likely the most uncommon pieces.
I used digital photography and digital fonts to create the images for the inside pages of my book. I used the letter press to produce the cover text and one page within one of the books. I tried purposefully to use letterpress text that would give the covers of the books a formal appearance, even though the subject matter and the photos were much more crude and informal. I wanted these books to have a storybook like appearance and a simplified narrative that would touch on these two ideas of identity: my past and present dietary restrictions and a scattered distractible mind. These are two pieces that I consider a definite part of my identity, but they are also two parts of my identity that I try the hardest to hide, particularly in the office culture in which I spend most of my day.
In some ways I do feel that the books are successful; they turned out mostly the way I was hoping. I don't necessarily think it's obvious that these books are about identity, or that they convey my discomfort on both topics. I do hope that they maybe act as a window into myself, which obviously I think they do. I really enjoyed the process of thinking this project through, thinking about how I would convey these ideas/themes through a narrative, using the letterpress, setting up camera shots, and making all of the adjustments. I think book making is something I would like to explore further in the future.