Anne Arden McDonald: Installations and Self Portraits

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Afterword - Anne Arden McDonald: The story of my self-portraiture begins in the summer when I was about eight years old. I had just taken a bath, the sun was setting, and my mother was taking pictures of my cousins and my brother and me in the backyard of my grandparent's house on Long Island. The amber light was in my hair and my nightgown. I felt radiant and beautiful and I wanted to hold on to that feeling. I wanted mom to take a picture of me so I could see what I looked like when I felt that way.

Questions of identity have always intrigued me. Am I my body and face, or am I my mind and thoughts? What is the germinating source of my ideas, and who is home to receive them? Am I who I am to you or to myself? These are simple questions, and still we carry them all of our lives. Who am I? Why am I here? How much of who I am is shaped by the fact that I am female, growing up in this time period, in this culture, and born to these parents? Or a reaction to all of this? And how much of this will I ever get to know before my life comes to an end?

When I was fourteen years old, I began making pictures of myself. I was growing up in Atlanta, Georgia, attending a conservative religious school, and I was in conflict with almost everyone around me. I believed that if I could make a beautiful picture of myself, make many copies, and pass them around, people would see me differently and my life would change. These first images were somewhat different from the ones you see here--I was dressed in a straw hat, in a red cashmere sweater, smiling with a rose--but I really believed in the power of the photograph to alter my life for the better. A few years later I began working with self-portraits more seriously. I was curious about things I had not been exposed to and rebelling against what I had been exposed to. I photographed myself as a runaway, a prostitute, a homeless person... - from Amzon 
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